Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

our fileet should be vanquished, if our wooden walls should fail us, he was afraid our country, thus laid open to the invasion of those hostile

powers, could not easily resist their force. Umphraville entertained a very different opinion. He said that a naval force might perhaps be necessary to maintain and defend an extensive foreign commerce; but he did not see how it was at all connected with the internal defence of a state, or why a nation might not be respectable both at home and abroad, without any great fleet. • Were the English,' said he, indebted to their wooden walls for the victory of Cressy, of Poictiers, and of Agincourt? Was it by a naval force that the great Gustavus was enabled to take so decisive a part in the affairs of Europe, and to render the power of Sweden so respectable? Is it by ships that the brave Swiss have defended their liberties for so many ages? What fleets did our own country possess, while she boldly maintained her independence for so many centuries, against the constant and unremitted attacks of England? Did we possess a single ship of force, when the gallant Bruce almost annihilated the power of England on the 'field of Bannockburn ? Believe me, gentlemen,'continued he, it is not an easy matter to subdue a free people fighting for their country. In such a cause every man would stand forth.

I
am,

I would not hesitate a moment to draw my sword against our foes, should they ever be desperate enough to make an attempt on these islands.'

. You may, if you please,' said Sir Bobby (who seemed to be awed for a time into silence,' by the elevated tone Umphraville had assumed): but I'll be cursed if I would. Damn it, what does it signify, if the French were to conquer us? I don't think we could lose much by it; and, in some respects, we should gain. We should drink better Burgundy; and

Old as

we should have clothes fit for a gentleman to wear, without running the risk of their being seized by these damned locusts of custom-house officers. I should not like, though, to lose my seat in the House. If the French leave us that, they may come again when they please for me.'-Umphraville, who had not the most distant conception of his being in parliament, asked Sir Bobby gravely, what seat, what house he meant ? · Why, damn it, our House, the House of Commons, to be sure;

- there is no living out of parliament now ; it is the ton for a gentleman to be in it, and it is the pleasantest thing in the world. There are Jack Dick

Lord - -, and I are always together. At first, we used to tire confoundedly of their late nights and long debates ; but now the minister is so obliging as to tell us when he thinks the question will be put, and away we go to dinner, to the opera, or somewhere, and contrive to return just in time to vote, or, as Lord

calls it, to be in at the death.'

Hitherto Uınphraville's countenance had discovered no emotion but that of contempt; now he could not conceal his astonishment and indignation. Recollecting himself, however, he asked the Baronet, if he never thought of his constituents, and of the purposes for which they sent him to parliament? . As to that,' said he, there is no man so attentive to his constituents as I am. I spend some months among

them every summer, where I keep open house for the savages, and make love to their wives and daughters. Besides, I am always making presents to the women of some little fashionable trinket. The last time I came from London, I brought down a parcel of spring garters, that cost me thirty shillings a pair, by Gad; which I distributed among them, taking care, at the same

[ocr errors]

time, to tell each of them, that nothing showed a fine ankle to such advantage as a spring garter.?

In the evening, after our visitors had left us, I found Umphraville sitting in his elbow-chair, in a graver mood than usual. 'I am thinking, my friend, said he, ‘ of the strange times we live in. You know I am not much of a politician; and, living retired as I do, abstracted from the world, I have little access to be acquainted with the springs that move the wheels of government, or the causes of national prosperity or adversity. For some time past, however, I have been endeavouring, in vain, to investigate the latent sources of the sudden and almost instantaneous decline of our empire, unexampled, I believe, in the history of nations. The scene you have this day witnessed, has given me more light on that subject than any thing I have yet met with.

If such men are to conduct and regulate the great affairs of state, are we to wonder at our want of success? If our senate is to be filled with beings, mean as they are worthless, alike destitute of public virtue and private honour, we may cease to be surprised at any calamity that befals

Of such creatures, I presume, the Roman senate was composed, when, by the groundless jealousy of an emperor (Gallienus, if I mistake not), the senators were prohibited from holding any military employment; and they considered the exemption as a favour, not as an affront : so lost were they to every principle of honour, so void of every generous and inanly feeling. But what astonishes me most is, that in times like these, when the empire is shook to its foundation, the people should be so infatuated as to trust their best, their dearest rights in such hands. Had the Congress been composed of Bobby Buttons, would America ever have made such a stand against us?

How long this Philippic might have lasted I can

us.

not say, had not Miss Umphraville come in and put an end to it, by challenging me to play a game at backgammon.

E.

N 69. TUESDAY, JANUARY 4, 1780.

TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR,

SIR,

I Am a pretty constant reader of your publications; by what means, you shall know before I have finished this letter. Among other papers of your publishing, I have read one marked No. 65, written by a lady, who subscribes herself S. M. That lady is pleased to complain of her situation, and to represent herself as unfortunate. I cannot think she has the least title to do so. She was received and entertained by a kind brother ; but, forsooth, she took it into her head to quarrel with him because he married, and seemed to like his wife better than her, and to be displeased with the lady, because she appeared to have more vanity than she ought to have had. Pray, what right bad she to find fault with those who so hospitably entertained her ? Or, how did she show superior sense by thus quarrelling of my

with her bread and butter?-I am, Sir, the younger brother of Sir George Fielding. I live comfortably and contentedly in his house; and yet, I could lay a wager, were Madam S. M. in my situation, she would be fretful and discontented : but I shall appeal to you, Sir, if she would have any reason for her discontent.

My father, Sir Robert, sent me, when a young man, to the University ; but, as I had no taste for study, I spent most of my time at the billiard-table, at cards, in hunting, playing at golf, or in public diversions. I was more gaily dressed than any companions, and I united many of the qualities of a beau and a buck.-During the vacation, I resided at my father's house; and the elegant and expensive manner in which he lived, increased my turn for pleasure and amusement. I was in

my
twentieth

year
when

my father, who had supplied me liberally with money, died, leaving me the small patrimony of one thousand pounds. Fifty pounds a-year could not support the expense of one who had been accustomed to spend four times that sum. In this situation it was thought necessary that I should do something for myself. Amidst the various schemes that were proposed, it was determined that I should become a chant. My brother Sir George, generously discharged all the debts I had contracted ; for, notwithstanding my father's liberality while he was living, I had contracted several; and I was bound apprentice to an eminent trader. He was a sober, industrious, thriving man; but I soon found it impossible to accommodate myself to his frugal and economical ideas; and my inclination for amusement, which he used to call dissipation and idleness, could not give way to his habits of industry and attention.

mer

[blocks in formation]
« VorigeDoorgaan »