« VorigeDoorgaan »
life ; it is enough for me if I can enrich your collection with a paper of insects. * Yours most truly,
" C. F.”
No. 94. SATURDAY, APRIL 1, 1780.
Among the other privileges of an anonymous periodical author is that of writing letters in praise of himself, which he is, now and then, obliged to insert on account of their merit, however offensive they may be to his modesty. This sort of correspondence, which I suppose is a very pleasant one, I have not ventured to indulge in. The correspondents whom I have personated, always talk of themselves instead of the MIRROR ; and, on the other hand, several of the papers I have received, are written in the person of the author, a character in which it were improper to praise him, and which, when assumed, gives, perhaps, no great inclination to do it. Of this last sort is the first of two communications, to which I devote the paper of to-day; the second, containing one of the very few compliments which the MinROR has exhibited of itself, is a genuine letter from London, written by a gentleman in the very situation, the feelings of which he so naturally describes.
In my first paper I took occasion to mention a few particulars of my situation and character, and my object in this publication. My design has been to afford an agreeable and innocent amusement; and by laying before my readers those characters I was acquainted with, and which presented themselves before me, I had some hopes, though I should not reclaim the completely vicious, that I might be able to guard the young and inexperienced, to alarm the inconsiderate, to confirm the wavering, and to point out, even to the worthy, some of those errors and imperfections, from which, perhaps, the finest minds are in the greatest danger of suffering.
How far I have been able to afford any amusement, I will not take upon me to say; but I am sorry to find, that many of the characters which I have presented to the public, with a view to point out men's errors and defects, have been considered as proper objects of imitation, and that some of my readers have so far mistaken the purpose I had in presenting such characters, as to be flattered by thinking that themselves bear some resemblance to them.
When I made my readers acquainted with my friend Mr. Fleetwood, I never meant to recommend that excessive delicacy and false refinement which often prevents him from being happy; on the contrary, my intention was to point out the danger of that excessive refinement, and to guard such of my readers as should be disposed to indulge in it, against its fatal consequences ; and yet I know a gentleman who is so desirous of being thought possessed of delicacy and refinement, that, the other day, I
very much pleased when one of his friends told him he was a very Fleetwood. Luckily for him, I know him to be possessed of Fleetwood's good qualities, without his imperfections. I cannot say so much for his acquaintance C. D. ; he is a peevish, discontented creature, quick in his temper, jealous of his friends, and dissatisfied with every thing about him. He has of late taken it into his head to be a man of taste, though he has not the least pretensions to the character; and while he indulges his own peevishness and chagrin, he flatters himself with the thought that he is a Fleetwood, and apologises for his bad temper, by calling it the effect of his delicacy and refinement of mind. Though I confess my partiality for Fleetwood's good qualities, yet had I not known C. D., I could hardly have thought that any one would have been vain of his imperfections, who was not possessed of any of his merits.
When I introduced Mr. Umphraville to my readers, I never meant to recommend that seclusion from the world, and that abstraction from the duties of life, which, with all the dignity of mind he is possessed of, have given occasion to his little oddities, and disqualified him for every active purpose; and yet Tom Meadows, who gave up the profession of the law, because he was too idle to attend to it, and who has lately sold his commission in the army, because he would not undergo the fatigues of a foreign campaign, has thought proper to justify his conduct by appealing to Mr. Umphraville's example; and pretends to say, that he, forsooth, has too much pride of mind, to occupy himself in applying the rules of law to the uninteresting disputes of individuals, or to be engaged in assisting in a review, or lining the streets at a procession.
H. B.'s letter, in my 51st Number, describes
the dangerous effects of giving too much culture, and too many accomplishments, and of softening too much the mind of a young girl, who has to struggle with the difficulties of life, and is not placed in such a situation as makes her independent of the world. It represents, in a very feeling manner, the delicate distress which these circumstances had oc. casioned. I have lately, however, received a letter froin a correspondent, who, from her language and expressions, seems to be a great reader in the circulating library. She says she has lately spent much of her time in studying the Belles Lettres ; that, of all things, she would wish to be learned and accomplished ;—that she regrets that her father did not educate her better ;- that of all the persons she ever read of, she would wish to be like my correspondent H. B. ;-that she envies her affliction, for that affliction makes part of her dream of happi. ness.'
The letter published in my 78th number, gives an excellent description of the bad effects of that too great easiness of temper which leads a man into folly and extravagance, and makes him be ruined by having too many friends. My neighbour Will Littlebit, whose heart is so contracted as not to be susceptible of the sentiment of friendship, and who, far from being in danger of being preyed upon by kis friends, never admits a guest within his house, says, that the 78th is the only good paper he has seen in the MIRROR, and that the last paragraph in particular should be printed in letters of gold, to serve as a lesson of imitation for all the young men
The particulars above-mentioned have taught me how difficult is the attempt to instruct or reform.There is no virtue which is not nearly connected with some vice; there is no imperfection which
of the age.
does not bear a near resemblance to some excel. lency.-And mankind, fond of indulging their favourite passions and inclinations, instead of distinguishing, endeavour to confound their vices with their virtues ; instead of separating the bad from the good grain, they bind all up together, and hug themselves in the belief of holding only what is valuable.
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR.
SIR, “ I am, though at this distance, one of your constant readers, and mark with pleasure not only the general good tendency of your papers, but perceive also that you draw your pictures of human nature from the only pure fountain, Nature, erself.
“ You must know I am a native of Edinburgh, where I passed my youth and received my education; but have been long settled in this place. Some years ago, I was impelled, by a very natural desire, to revisit my native country, and I now sit down to communicate to you the sensations I felt upon that occasion.
“ On my arrival in Edinburgh, I will own that what first struck me was the total change of faces. Very few were left whom I knew when a boy, and those so altered in their appearance, so much the shadows only of what they once were, as could not fail to excite many serious reflections. Hardly a single house did I find inhabited by the same persons I left in it; but every where a new race, new manners, and new modes of living. In short, I found myself, in almost every sense of the word, an utter stranger. Even the improvements that had been made during my long absence displeased me.