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To the Author of the Mirror. SIR, I am one of a family of young ladies who read your paper, with which we have been hitherto tolerably well pleased, though we could wish it were not quite so grave, and had a little more love in it. But we have found out, of late, that it is none of your own, but mostly borrowed from other people. A cousin of ours, who is himself a fine scholar, and has a great acquaintance among the critics, shewed us many different instances of this. Your first paper, he told us, was copied from the first paper of the Spectator; and, upon looking into both, we found them exactly the same, all about the author and the work from beginning to end. Your Umphraville, he said, was just Sir Roger de Coverley ; which we perfectly agreed in, except that my sister Betsy observed, Umphraville wanted the Widow, which all of us think the very best part of Sir Roger. Your Bobby Button, he assured us, was borrowed from N° 13. of the True Pa. triot, published by Mr. Fielding, who wrote Tom
Jones ; and there, indeed, we found there was a story of a young gentleman, who liked French wine better than his country, just like Sir Bobby. N° 72, which we thought a very sweet paper, he informed us was taken from the Night Thoughts; and, indeed, though we don't understand Latin, we saw plainly that the mottos were the same to a 7. All this, however, we might have overlooked, had not a gentleman, who called here this morning, who used formerly to be a great advocate for the Mirror, confessed to us, that our cousin's intelligence was literally true ; and, more than all that, he told us, that your very last Number was to be found, every word of it, in Johnson's Dictionary:
We send you therefore, notice, Sir, that unless you can contrive to give us something new for the future, we shall be obliged to countermand our subscription for the Mirror. We can have a reading of a fresh Novel every morning for the money, with a spick and span new story in it, such as none of us ever read or heard of in all our lives before.
No 97. TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 1780.
To the Author of the Mirror.
Your correspondent K. B. has well described the calamitous condition of a private tutor, without money or friends. Perhaps it will afford him some consolation, to hear of one who needlessly entangled himself in difficulties of a like nature.
My father bred me to the study of letters, and, at his death, left me in possession of a fortune, not sufficient to check my industry in the pursuit of know, ledge, but more than sufficient to secure me from ser.. vile dependence.
Through the interest of his friends, I obtained an honourable and lucrative office; but there were cer, tain arrangements to be made, which delayed my ad. mission to it for a twelvemonth. While I was con. sidering in what way I might best fill up this interyal of life, an acquaintance of mine requested, as a
particular favour, that I would bestow the year which I could call mine, in reading with the only' son of the rich Mr. Flint. The conditions offered were uncommonly advantageous, and such as indeed flattered the vanity of a young man.
For understanding my story, it is fit that you should be informed of the characters of that family, into which I was received with so many marks of favour and distinction.
Rowland Flint, Esq. was born of poor but honest parents; they niade a hard shift to have him instructed in reading, and even in writing and arithme. tic; and then they left him to find his way through the world as he best could. The young man, like a philosopher, carried about with him all that was truly his own, his quill and his ink-holder ; he at. tached himself to one of the subordinate departments of the law, in which his drudgery was great and his profits scanty. After having toiled for many years in this humble, contented, and happy vocation, he was suddenly raised to opulence by the death of an uncle.
This uncle went abroad at a very early period of life, with the fixed resolution of acquiring a compe. tency, and then of enjoying it at home. But that competency, which filled up the measure of the ambi. tion of a bare Scotch lad, proved far short of the desires of an eminent foreign merchant. He imperceptibly became, 'in easy circumstances, well in the • world, of great credit, a man to be relied on, and ' to be advised with, and even one superior to all shocks, calls, and runs.'
While engaged in making his fortune, he thought it needless to inquire after his pour relations whom he could not assist ; and, after he made his fortune, he thought it equally needless, as he was to see them 80 soon in Scotland.' Yet a multitude of unforeseen
obstacles retarded his return : some new mortgage was to be settled, some company concerns to be wound up, or some bottomry accompt to be adjusted ; and thus year glided along after year, till at length death surprised him at the age of threescore and ten.
Busied in making money, he had never bestowed a thought on providing an heir to it : that he left to the impartial determination of the laws of his coun
try; and, dying intestate, he was succeeded by his · nephew Rowland Flint.
This gentleman, on his becoming rich, discovered himself to be eminently skilled in the science of law, the study, as he boasted, of his earlier years; and this knowledge engaged him in three or four lawsuits, which the court uniformly determined against him with costs.
But of every other science he honestly avowed his want of knowledge ; and he did not even pretend to understand painting or politics ; but he had a mighty veneration for literature and its professors, and he was resolved to make his son a great scholar, although it should stand him in ten thousand pounds sterling.
My pupil is in his fifteenth year. They had taken him from school before it was discovered that his proficiency in literature did not qualify him for college ; and it became my task to bring him forward, that is, to teach him what he ought to have known already.
The youth is of a docile disposition, and of nioderate talents; his memory good, and his application such as is generally to be found among those who, having no particular incentives to study, perform their tasks merely as tasks.
I have little to say concerning his mother: her mind was wholly absorbed in the contemplation of her husband's riches, and in the care of her son's health and her own. Baron Bielfield, an eminent German author, observes, that, in our island, there is a disease called le-catch-cold, of which the natives are exceedingly apprehensive. Mrs. Flint lived under the perpetual terror of that disease.
Being thus rendered incapable of the active duties of house-keeping, she committed them to her brother, Captain Winterbottom, who, as he was wont to say,
could bear a hand at any thing. But his chief excellence lay in the conduct of the stew-pan and the nation. He had long commanded a vessel in the Baltic trade; and it having been once employed as a transport in the service of government, he affected to wear a cockade, and wished to have it understood that he belonged to the navy. The captain had dealt occasionally in borough-politics, belonged to several respectable clubs in London, and was one of the original members of the Robinhood society. .
The last of the family that I shall mention is Miss Juliana Winterbottom, a maiden sister of Mrs. Flint. Her original name was Judith ; but, when she arrived at the years of discretion, she changed it to Juliana, as being more genteel. • Many years ago, Lady- was advised to pass a winter at Nice, for recovery of her health, worn out by the vigils and dissipation of a London winter; and she easily prevailed on Miss Juliana to go as her companion. The heat of the climate, and the cold blasts from the Alps, soon completed what the corrupted air of good company, and the damps from the Thames, had begun, and Lady- lived not to re fee her British physicians.
Miss Juliana, on her return home, passed by the castle of Fernay, and got a peep of M. de Voltaire, in his furred cap and night gown. At Paris, she chanced to be in company with Count Buffon, for half an hour; and she actually purchased a volume