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very attentive to dress, and as now I only wished to comply so far with the fashion of the times, as not to offend those with whom I was to mingle in society, I desired
tailor to make me a plain suit of clothes, leaving the choice of the colour, &c. entirely to him. Next day, he brought me home a blue frock, a scarlet waistcoat, with gold buttons, and a pair of black silk breeches. I could not help observing, that I should have preferred a plain suit, all of a piece, to the party-coloured garment in which he had decked me. But he shut
mouth, by saying, that it was quite the fashion ; that every body wore it ; that he had made a suit of the same kind for Mr. one of his best customers, who informed him that at London nothing else was
Being engaged to dine at the house of a gentleman high in office, I dressed myself in my new suit and when I joined the company, which was numerous, I found that my tailor had done me justice, almost every body being precisely in the same dress; and some of the guests were of the first distinction.
“ After the usual compliments were over, the conversation turned upon the excellence of the
present administration. Above all, the virtues and the ta. lents of the first minister were mentioned in the warmest terms of approbation. One talked of his eloquence in public debate, and in that particular gave him the preference to all his contemporaries ; another dwelt upon his wisdom and sagacity in coun. sel, so astonishing at his early years ; a third expa
pure and unblemished character, and mentioned the happiness the country might expect from a minister who carried into office every virtue which could adorn private life. Although no politician or party-man, as a good citizen, and a well
wisher to my country, I felt a real satisfaction from this flattering account of our present situation; yet I at length began to wish that the conversation would take some otherturn, and become a little more general. There were in company men of distinguish. ed name in the literary world, and I longed to hear them on some subject of literature. In this view, though naturally shy in the company of strangers, I endeavoured to introduce some topics of that kind : but all my attempts proved fruitless, and the conversation immediately recurred to its original channel. In a word, Sir, we parted as we met, resounding the praises of the minister, and of the measures of the present administration. “Next day I went to dine at the house of Lord
to whom I have the honour of being related. I found assembled a large company of ladies and gentlemen. Soon after I entered the room we were called to dinner; and at table I had the good fortune to be placed next to the beautiful and sprightly Lady As upon the former day, so here, the conversation soon turned upon the present adminis: tration; but, to my no small astonishment, the opi. nion of every person present was in every particular directly opposite to every opinion I had heard the day before. I was now told, that in the hands of a presumptuous boy, for so the minister was termed, the nation must go to ruin ;-that nothing could save us but placing at the head of affairs a man of distinguished abilities, of a bold and vigorous mind, capable of planning and of executing such measures as could alone restore the empire to its pristine glory. After canvassing the public character of the minister, they proceeded to an investigation of his private deportment, in which they did not seem disposed to allow him those virtues and good qualities which, on
the former day, I had heard so highly extolled. In this conversation the ladies bore a part, and seemed to be as warmly interested as the men.
“ I ventured to ask Lady — what objection she had to Mr. Pitt? •O, I can't bear him,' said she : ! he does not like us; and the only mark of attention he ever paid us, was imposing an odious burden upon our ruffs and aprons.' At that instant I happened to unbutton my coat, and Lady — immediately exclaimed, Lord, Sir, are you a Pittite? I took you for one of us.' I, though surprised at the question, answered gravely, that I was no more a Pittite than a Hittite. Then, Sir, why do you wear a red waistcoat? I am sick at the very sight of it. Why are you not in buff? I would not give a farthing for a man but in buff.'
“ This observation called my attention to the dress of the gentlemen at table, and I found that all of them were dressed in buff waistcoats, to which some of them, who appeared to be most zealous in their political principles, had added buff breeches. I then proceeded to examine the dress of the ladies, and found that most of them wore a Fox's tail by way of decoration in their head-dress. My neighbour Lady
testified her attachment to the ex-minister by another piece of dress, which I own I found a little offensive. She wore a large muff, made of the skin of our common red fox, which, from some error, I presume, in the method of preparing it, had a perfume not the most agreeable in the world. I could not help remarking this to Lady — who, with great good-humour, admitted that my observation was just ; but added, twirling round her muff upon a beautiful well-turn’d arm, that were it ten times worse, she would wear it for the sake of her dear Carlo.'
“ In short, Sir, I now find that the good people of your town are divided into two opposite parties, and that a spirit of faction universally prevails. Amidst those zealots by whom I am surrounded, I find myself in an awkward and an unpleasant situation. I am a plain man, and though I love my king and country, and have as high a veneration for the British constitution as any man in the island, I have ever been an enemy to faction, and have always thought that men in a private station, like me, were not called upon, and indeed not entitled, to take a violent concern in affairs of state, or the government of the nation. With these principles I find, that I am not acceptable to either party. My red waistcoat, which now that I have got it, I am unwilling to throw aside, gives me at first ready access to the Pittites: but when they find that I cannot enter into all their ideas, they consider me either as an enemy in disguise, or, what is perhaps still worse in their estimation, as a lukewarm friend. On the other hand, the Foxites, who, from my dress, consider me as attached to the opposite faction, seem to be displeased with me for not taking part against them with sufficient keenness and spirit ; they talk of me as a trimmer, and plainly insinuate, that my only object is to keep well with both parties, and avoid giving offence to either.
“ In this hard situation I have resolved to apply to you for advice. In my own name, then, and in the name of all those who, like myself, have nothing to hope and nothing to fear from either of the contend. ing parties, be so good as point out what conduct one ought to pursue, who, though interested in the general welfare of his country, feels no inclination to connect himself with either of the parties who are now struggling for the government of it.
“ I am, Sir, yours, &c.
I am the better qualified to advise my correspondent Neuter, from having experienced the same distress myself. About a year ago, when the contest between the opposite parties was at its greatest height, I was a good deal puzzled how to act. A friend, to whom I communicated my distress, advised me to get both a red and a buff waistcoat, and wear them alternately. But it occurred to me, that wearing the distinguishing badge of both parties, might have the appearance of something deceitful, and might expose me to a worse appellation than that of trimmer. After due deliberation, therefore, I equipped myself in a suit of black, which I resolved to wear till the present dissension should subside. I have adhered rigidly to this resolution, except that sometimes, when I wish to make a smarter figure than common, I enliven my
distress by putting on a brown or a gray frock over my black waistcoat. Partly by this prudent caution, and partly by my known indolence of character, I have continued to steer tolerably well between the contending factions, without giving offence even to the zealots of either.
In Britain we enjoy the most perfect system of freedom that ever existed in any society. But from the very nature of our government, we must neces. sarily be exposed to the violence of faction ; and when the spirit of party runs high, when the fever is at the height, it naturally breaks out into external appearances, always ridiculous, and sometimes whimsical to the last degree.
The little extravagances of which I complain, are not confined to those who may be considered as belonging in some measure to the party whose livery they wear. We daily see men possessing no political influence, and equally incapable of supporting