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leaving, as companions for each other, a bankrupt gambler, living embarrassed and distressed on the shattered remains of a fortune; and two neglected beauties, paying, I am afraid, much too dear for the pleasure they once derived from that envied distinction; while the most promising of our younger sons has fallen a prey to the same fashionable folly and extravagance; and the whole hopes of a once-flourishing family are left to depend on the doubtful success of an Eastern adventurer.
Such, Sir, are the consequences of that preposterous fashion which leads men of moderate fortunes to give their children an education and taste of life altogether unsuited to the situations they are likely to occupy
“ Even to those whose fortunes enable them to move in the sphere of fashionable dissipation and expense, the real pleasures and privileges of their situation are much less considerable than they are commonly imagined; but to men of more limited circumstances, an attempt to rise into that region of extravagance is fatal indeed; it leads them from the moderate station where every happiness was to be found, and abandons them to want embittered by discontent, and to distresses heightened by selfreproach. L
No. 14. SATURDAY, MAY 7, 1785.
They who live in the bustle of the world, are not perhaps, the best or most accurate observers of the progreşsive change of manners in that society in
which they pass their time. In such a situation we adopt the modes and manners of those with whom we live, with so much ease and facility, that any change is hardly perceptible, or, if perceived, leaves but a slight impression. Like the alteration produced by time upon the human form, though we know that there is a constant change, we do not observe it in those with whom we are daily accustomed to associate. A stranger in a foreign land sees many beauties, and discovers many deformities which escape the eye
of a native. To the stranger every object is new; it strikes his imagination, it calls forth his attention, and he views and considers it in all its various lights. In judging, indeed, of what he sees, his national prejudices may be apt to mislead him; he may suppose defects where, in truth, there are none, and he may exaggerate slight imperfections into capital faults.
A person who, after living a number of years in retirement returns again into society, is somewhat in the situation of the foreigner. Like him, he is apt to be misled by prejudices; but like him too, he remarks many things which escape the observation of those whose sensations are blunted by habit, and whose attention is less awake to the objects around them.
It was this which afforded me so much amusement in the conversation of my new acquaintance Colonel Caustic, of which I gave my readers some account in a former paper. Like the sleepers when they entered the city of Ephesus, Colonel Caustic, on coming to Edinburgh after forty years' residence in the country, found a total change in the appearance, in the dress, the manners, and the customs of its inhabitants. Every man, perhaps, at an advanced age, is more or less a laudator temporis acti, and naturally feels a predilection for those happy days when novelty added to the charms of life, and gave a zest to every enjoyment. If to this natural feeling be joined any particular cause of disgust; if, like Colonel Caustic, a man has been driven from society by any particular disappointment or misfortune; if in silence and in solitude he has suffered his distresses to prey upon his mind, if he has fondly brooded over them for a long course of years, he must indeed be endowed by nature with a more than common share of philanthropy, to be able to come back into the world without discovering marks of sourness and chagrin.
To those causes must be ascribed the severity of my friend Caustic's observations. All his natural good sense and benevolence of disposition could not prevent him from being hurt and affected by a thousand little improprieties which he perceived, or fancied that he perceived.
But I had some time ago an opportunity of seeing my friend Caustic in a situation where, it must be owned, there was some reason for severity of remark. In a former paper, I mentioned the pleasure I received from attending him to the theatre. As we were waiting in the passage till we could get chairs, we found Mr. B-, a contemporary of Caustic's, waiting for his carriage. Mr. B. expressed much satisfaction at seeing his old acquaintance; and after a gentle reproof on the score of visiting, he begged that Caustic and I would do him the honour to dine with him, sans façon, that day week. Caustic, after stealing a look at me, accepted of the invitation ; and I at the same time agreed to be of the party. When Mr. B. left us, Caustic, who had not seen him for many years, asked me some questions with regard to his situation in life. Why,' replied I, he has become very rich, and it is his chief wish that his friends should enjoy his wealth. He lives en prince, as you will see.'— When I knew him,' said Caustic, he was poor enough; but though a
little vain now and then, he was upon the whole a goed well-disposed man.
Upon the day appointed, I attended Caustic to Mr. B.'s. We went precisely at four o'clock, which he had informed us was his hour. Upon entering the house, I found the servants waiting in the hall, dressed out in their laced liveries, with a look of insolent importance in their faces; and there was an air of preparation in every thing we saw, from the gilded knockers at the gate to the Gobelins tapestry in the drawing-room. Soon after we entered the room, the servant announced Lady — Upon hearing her name, Caustic started from his chair with an uncommon degree of satisfaction in his countenance. Lady — was a beauty of the last age, when Caustic was a gay and fashionable man about town. In the height of her beauty, she had retired from the world to dedicate her time to the education of her children. At the age of sixty-five, she still retains an eye expressive of that tempered vivacity, that animated benignity and goodness, which equally attracts our regard and commands our respect. In every thing she says, she discovers a sound understanding, accompanied with a most engaging cheerfulness of disposition, not abated by age, and perhaps rather heightened by the pleasing reflection on a life spent in the uniform practice of every virtue. Lady and Caustic had not met for many years. It was with pleasure I saw the respectful, yet affectionate manner with which my friend now addressed her, and the kind affability with which she on her part received his compliments.
The conversation soon turned upon the improvements of this city. Mr. B. spoke with much fluency on this subject; and, addressing himself to Caustic, observed, that formerly Edinburgh was in a manner uninhabitable ; that thirty years ago there was not a
house fit for a gentleman to live in ; that the pleasures of society were then unknown; and that we now only begin to know how to live. Caustic admitted, that as a town Edinburgh no doubt was improved : But you must forgive me,' added he,
for doubting if the society of Edinburgh has improved in an equal degree.
-Unquestionably it has,' said Mr. B. • You must remember the time when there was not a dinner to be had in any house in town; when the men passed their whole time in taverns, and the women were left alone, to amuse themselves as they best could.'— There is some truth in the observation,' said Lady yet, upon the whole, those were not bad times.
I agree with your Ladyship,' said Colonel Caustic. • It is true we did not then inhabit palaces, and we seldom saw those sumptuous entertainments, where one sits, between etiquette and ennui, labouring through two courses and a desert, as I had the misfortune to do but yesterday, placed between a lady who did not choose to say any thing, and a gentleman who spoke of nothing but the excellence of the cook, and who, in the fulness of his heart, communicated to me a new mode of dressing currie, which he had just received from a friend high in office at Calcutta, by the last express over-land.
For my part,' added the Colonel, I would not exchange an hour passed in the society I have had the honour to see assembled in your Ladyship's drawing-room, for twenty such dinners. . There a conversation, at once gay and polite, afforded the highest entertainment of which a rational creature is capable. There I have seen a Hume trifling with the beautiful and the young, and at the same time communicating knowledge andinstruction in a manner the most pleasing, simple, and unaffected. There I have seen a Hamilton