Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

bunglers whom we see attempt the part, should so frequently make enemies by offices of friendship, and purchase a lampoon at the price of a panegyric.

There is a sort of female patronage, of which I cannot forbear taking notice, though it be somewhat out of place here. is considered as of little importance, though I am apt to believe, its consequences are sometimes of a very serious nature. In some great houses, My Lady, as well as My Lord, has a train of followers, who contend for that honour which her intimacy is held to confer, and emulate those manners which her rank and fashion are supposed to sanctify. Let the humanity of such a patroness lead her to beware, lest her patronage be fatal to her favourites. If the glare of grandeur, or the luxuries of wealth, deprive them of the relish of sober enjoyments ; if the ease of fashionable behaviour seduce them from the simplicity of purer manners; they will have dearly purchased the friendship which they court, or the notice which they envy. Let such noble persons consider, that, to the young ladies they are pleased to call their friends, those sober pleasures, those untainted anners, are to be the support of celibacy, the dower of marriage, the comfort and happiness of a future life. It were cruel, indeed, if, by any infringement of those manners, any contempt for those pleasures (too easily copied by their inferiors), they should render the little transient distinctions which they bestow in kindness, a source of lasting misery to those who receive them.

To the behaviour of the rich, the above observations may apply; wealth, in a commercial country like ours, conferring, in a great measure, the dig. nity of title or of birth. There are, however, some particular errors, into which the possessors of suddenly acquired fortunes are apt to fall, that defeat the ends at which they aim, that disgust where they meant to dazzle, and only create envy where they wish to excite admiration. When Lucullus, at a dinner to which he has invited half a dozen of his old acquaintance, shews his side-board loaded with plate, and brings in seven or eight laced servants to wait at table, I do not reckon the dinner given, but sold. I am expected to pay my reckoning as much as in a tavern ; only here I am to give my admiration, and there my money; and it is certain that many men, and some very narrow ones too, will sooner part with the last than with the former. I have sometimes seen a high-spirited poor man at Lucullus's table, affronted by the production of Burgundy and refuse Champaigne, because it had the borachio of our landlord's fourscore thousand pounds on it. This was honest, and Lucullus had not much title to complain ; but he knows not how often his Burgundy and Champaigne are drank by fellows who tell all the world, next day, of their former dinners with him at a shilling ordinary, with sixpenny worth of punch, by way of regale, upon holidays.

There is an obligation to complacency, I had almost said humility of manners, which the acquisition of wealth or station lays on every man, though it has often, especially on weak minds, a directly opposite effect. A certain degree of inattention, or even rudeness, which from an equal we may easily pardon, from a superior becomes a serious injury. When my school companion Marcus was a plain fellow like myself, I could have waited for him half an hour after the time of appointment, and laughed at his want of an apology when we met. that he is become a great man, I count the minutes of my attendance with impatience; and when he swaggers up to his elbow-chair without an acknowledgement, I hate him for that arrogance which I

But now

think he assumes, and almost hate myself for bear. ing it as I do. The truth is, Marcus was born in the rank, but without the sensibilities, of a gentleman; a' want, which no office in the state, no patent of dignity, can ever supply. If the term were rightly understood, I might confine my adınonitions on the subject of this paper to three words, «Be a gentle“ man.” The feelings of this character, which, in point of manners, is the most respectable of any, will be as immediately hurt by the idea of giving uneasiness by his own behaviour, as of suffering uneasiness from the behaviour of another. V

No. XCII. SATURDAY, MARCH 25.

LOOKING from the window of a house where I was visiting some mornings ago, I observed on the opposite side of the street, a sign-post, ornamented with some little busts and bronzes, indicating a person to live there, by trade a Figure-maker. On remarking to a gentleman who stood near me, that this was a profession I did not recollect having heard of before, my friend, who has a knack of drawing observations from trifles, and I must confess, is a little inclined to take things on their weak side, replied, with a sarcastic smile, that it was one of the most common in life. While he spoke, a smart young man, who has lately set up a very showy equipage, passed by in his carriage at a brisk trot, and bowed to me, who have the honour of a slight acquaintance with him, with that air of civil consequence which puts one in mind of the notice a man thinks himself entitled to. “ That " young gentleman," said my friend, is a Figure“ maker, and the chariot he drives in is his sign

post. You might trace the brethren of this trade " through every street, square, and house in town.

Figure-making is common to all ranks, ages,

tempers, and situations : there are rich and poor, “ extravagant and narrow, wise and foolish, witty « and ridiculous, eloquent and silent, beautiful and 6 ugly Figure-makers. In short, there is scarce

any body such a cypher from Nature, as not to 6 form some pretensions to making a figure in spite u of her.

“ The young man who bowed to you is an extravagant Figure-maker, more remarkable from be“ ing successor to a narrow one. I knew his father

well, and have often visited him in the course “ of money-transactions, at his office, as it was call“ ed, in the garret-story of a dark airless house, " where he sat, like the Genius of Lucre, brood“ing in his hole over the wealth his parsimony “ had acquired him. The

very

ink with which he wrote was adulterated with water, and he delayed

mending his pen till the characters it formed were “ almost illegible. Yet he too had great part of his " enjoyment from the opinion of others, and 61 not insensible to the pleasures of Figure-making. “ I have often seen him in his thread-bare brown u coat, stop in the street to wait the passing of some " of his well-dressed debtors, that he might have “ the pleasure of insulting them with the intiinacy « to which their situations entitled him; and I once « knew him actually lend a large sum, on terms less 6 advantageous than it was his custom to insist up

on, merely because it was a Peer who wanted to « borrow, and that he had applied in vain to two right honourable relations of immense fortune.

“ His son has just the same desire of shewing his " wealth that the father had ; but he takes a very

was

“ different method of displaying it. Both, however, “ display, not enjoy, their wealth, and draw equal “ satisfaction from the consequence derived from it “ in the opinion of others. The father kept guineas “ in his coffers which he never used; the son “ changes, indeed, the species of property, but has “ just as little the power of using it. He keeps horses « in his stable, mistresses in lodgings, and servants “ in livery, to no better purpose than his father did “ guineas. He gives dinners, at which he eats made “ dishes that he detests, and drinks champaigne and “ burgundy, instead of his old beverage of port and “ punch, till he is sick, because they are the dishes “ and drink of great and rich men. The son's situa« tion has the advantage of brilliancy, but the father's “ was more likely to be permanent; he was daily “ growing richer with the aspect of poverty ; his 6 son is daily growing poorer, with the appearance 6 of wealth.

“ It is impossible to enumerate the pranks which “ the sudden acquisition of riches, joined to this “ desire of Figure-making, sets people a-playing. “ There is nothing so absurd or extravagant, which “ riches, in the hands of a weak man, will not tempt « him to commit, from the mere idea of enjoying “ his money in the way of exhibition. Nay, this will “ happen to persons of whose sense and discretion " the world had formerly a high opinion, even where " that opinion was a just one; for wealth often makes « fools where it does not find them.” My friend happening to cast his eye upon me at that moment, dis. covered a smile on my countenance : “ You are think“ ing now,” said he, that you and I could endure be“ ing left twenty or thirty thousand pounds, notwith“ standing the truth of my observation.” “ It would « spoil your lecture," I replied ; “ but you may go

on in the mean time.” He took the pinch of snuff

« VorigeDoorgaan »