tended to, as necessary to fit men for retiring from the world ; as qualifying them to act their part with propriety when they retreat from the business of life, and to enjoy themselves, when enjoyment becomes their object. There is a certain time of life, when almost every man wishes to escape from the hurry and bustle of the world, and to taste the sweets of retirement and repose ; but how few are there, who, when they have arrived at that period which they fixed for this retreat, and have put their designs in execution, meet with that enjoyment which they looked for! Instead of pleasure,' they find satiety, weariness, and disgust; time becomes a heavy burden upon them, and in what way they may kill the tedious hours, grows, at length, their only object. But had these men received a good education, they would never be at a loss how to fill up their time ; rich fields of entertainment would open to them from various sources. Company and conversation would receive a finer relish; books would give perpetual enjoyments; the gay prospects of the country, the romantic scenes which it affords, the adorning and beautifying those scenes and the culture of all the elegant arts, would make that fortune, which many possess without knowing how to use, the minister of every thing that can afford delight.

I believe it may be true, that neither learning, nor a taste for the elegant arts, is requisite to enable a person engaged in the ordinary business of life, to succeed in his profession; and, while so engaged, the occupations of that profession will prevent his feeling any vacuity or suffering any inconvenience from his ignorance and want of refine. ment. But when such a person has acquired a fortune, and given up business, I have often observed, that

[ocr errors]

from this uncultivated state of mind, he is at a loss how to enjoy himself or his riches. He either besomes a prey to chagrin and ennui, or he gives him. self up to the coarsest intemperance; or, should he wish to figure as a man of taste or fashion, he receives but little entertainment himself, and his at. tempts are so absurd and preposterous, as to make him the object of scoff and ridicule to others.

Drexelius was put 'early to business : his whole learning consisted in being able to read English, to write, and keep accounts. He got soon into a very good branch of trade ; his attention was unremitted; and his æconomy was equal to his attention. His labours, far from being a burden upon him, only gave him an exertion of mind, which kept him in an equal and unceasing flow of spirits. By the time he was fifty, Drexelius had acquired a fortune equal to that of the richest of his fellow.citizens. He now began to think seriously of enjoying it. The resolution which he had early formed of re. tiring to the country when he should have acquired a fortune, and which had supported him during the labours of acquiring it, he now determined to put in practice. He, therefore, wound up his business, sold off his stock, and purchased an estate in the country. The novelty of the situation, and the flattering thought that he was proprietor of so many acres, supported him for a while. But he soon began to find, that the fields, and woods, and rivers, gave him no sort of pleasure. He could receive no amusement from farming, and books he was unable to enjoy. A volume of the Spectator, recommended to him by the clergyman of the parish, lay half-read upon the chimney-piece; and the prospects which he heard others admire, appeared to him not more beautiful than the front of the

Exchange, or the pavement of the street on which he used to tread. Tired, therefore, of the country, and weary of every thing, he began to long for the town which he had abandoned, and to become again a frequenter of the 'Change. Accordingly he hired a house in town, and resolved to spend in it the winter months at least. But the town had now also lost its charms, and he found it impossible to recover them. He had no longer business to occupy his mind : when he rose in the morning, he knew not what to do ; he had no bargains to settle, and no ships to insure. His acquaintance around him were busy, while he was idle; he found him. self alone in the midst of a crowd, an uninterested spectator of what used to employ him. Change of situation, therefore, gave him no relief, for the town was now as dull as the country. The purchase he had made was a dear one : upon his estate, which had cost him more at first than he intended to give for it, he was obliged to build a house, and to make some other improvements, the expence of which like that of all other buildings and improvements, greatly exceeded what their owner had made his account with. This, however, was little to one of Drexelius's fortune. On former occasions, he had lost more upon one adventure in trade, without being much affected by the loss; but then he had dif. ferent objects to interest him, and he expected to make up by other adventures what he had lost upon one ; now he had nothing else to think of but the daily expenditure. This took possession of his imagination; he thought he saw poverty and ruin before him; and his health began to sink under the vexations of his mind. In vain did his friends represent to him the greatness of his fortune ; that the money he was laying out was a trifle to what he possessed; and that, after all his plans were finished, he would still have more than he could spend. It is to no purpose to reason with a diseased imagina. tion; the only thing which can relieve it is a change of objects and a variety of amusements. But this method could not be followed by Drexelius : there was no object to interest him ; and his mind was incapable of amusement. His disease, therefore, increased upon him every day. The proprietor of a fine place, possessed of a great fortune, in short, with all the means of pleasure and enjoyment, he was haunted with the demon of Poverty, and actually believed, that, if he lived many years, he should die of want.

Clavius was a partner in trade with Drexelius, whose example he followed in the scheme of en. joying a retreat in the country. But his mind was as empty and uneducated as that of Drexelius, equally incapable of amusing itself in solitude, or of receiving pleasure from those enjoyments which a country life is calculated to bestow. He was, however, a man of greater natural spirits, and was not therefore so apt to become a prey to listlessness, or to the effects of gloomy avarice. Company was his resource; and that the hours might not lie heavy upon him, he took care never to be alone. But as he had no talent for conversation, every sort of company was equally welcome to him; and, where conversation was not the object, it became necessary to support the society by some adven. titious aid. The bottle, therefore, was had recourse to. This was the employment during the finest summer-evenings ; and the morning sun often rose upon the same company on which it had gone down. Men flocked to Clavius's country seat, not to enjoy the charms of the country, but the charms of 80ciety, and what they called good fellowship. Thus were Clavius's nights spent in getting intoxicated, and his mornings in sleeping off that intoxication. His constitution was not long able to support this course of life ; he died, a few years after he had quitted business, a martyr to that fortune which his wishes had formerly represented as the certain source of felicity.

Pomponius took a different turn from the persons I have mentioned. He was equally ignorant and uneducated as they; but, when he had acquired his fortune, as he had heard much of taste, of ele. gance, and of refinement, he resolved to be a man of taste. The estate he purchased had been the old hereditary possession of a man of considerable rank. Pomponius gave several years' purchase more than its value, that he might be possessed of the demesne of an ancient family, and have the pleasure of adding to his name · Esquire, of i When he came to live at this estate, he found the old mansion-house must be pulled down and a new one erected. But, instead of trusting to the skill and taste of his architect, the plan must be his own. In this he heaped ornament upon ornament, and pillar upon pillar. The columns are large enough to have supported a Gothic cathedral ; the inside is crowded with painted compartments; and every pannel and window is bedawbed with gilding. His fields are laid out in the most absurd taste. A claycoloured ditch, which he calls a canal, made at an exorbitant expence, runs parallel with the front of his house ; at each end is a circular puddle, called a bason, in which is a little bank of rubbish, dig. nified with the name of island. Not a walk but is stuck full of statues ; and temples and grottoes appear in every field. In shewing you his grounds

« VorigeDoorgaan »