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plicity, which artists of inferior merit are glad . to practise, in order to extort the notice of the • Public, and to make a figure by surprise and singularity.'
The accidental interruption of a new visitor now stopped the current of my friend's discourse ; he had, indeed, begun to tire most of the company, who were not all disposed to listen quite so long as he seemed inclined to speak. In truth, he had forgot that the very reproof he meant to give his neighbours, applied pretty strongly to himself, and that, though he might suppose he was lecturing from the desire of reformation, he was, in reality, haranguing in the spirit of Figure-making.
N°93. TUESDAY, MARCH 28, 1780.
Parva leves capiunt animoso
That life consists, in a great measure, of triling oce currences and little occupations, there needs no uncommon sagacity or attention to discover. Notwithstanding the importance we are apt to ascribe to the employments and the time, even of the greatest and most illustrious, were we to trace such per-sons to the end of their labours and the close of their pursuits, we should frequently discover, that trifles were the solace of the one, and the purpose of the other. Public business and political arrangement are often only the constrained employments to which accident or education has devoted their hours, while their willing moments are destined, perhaps, to light amusements and to careless mirth.
It is not then surprising, that trifles should form the chief gratification of ordinary men, on whom the Public has no claim, and individuals have little dependence. But, of those trifles, the nature will commonly mark the man, as much as circumstances of greater importance. A mind capable of high exertion or delicate sentiment, will stoop with a certain consciousness of its descent, that will not allow it to wanton into absurdity, or sink into grossness. There is, in short, a difference, which sense and feeling will not easily forget, between the little and the mean, the simple and the rude, the playful and the foolish.
But the surest mark of a weak mind is an affecta. tion of importance amidst the enjoyment of trifles, a bustle of serious business amidst the most insignificant concerns.
The bringing forward of little things to the rank of great ones, is the true burlesque in character as well as in style ; yet such characters are not uncommon, even among men who have acquired some estimation in the world. In this particular, the world is easily deceived ; dulness may often ape solemnity, and arrogate importance, where brighter talents would have drawn but little regard; as objects are magnified by mists, and made awful by darkness.
Of a character of this sort I received, some time ago, the following sketch from a young lady, who sometimes. honours me with her correspondence, whose vivacity can give interest to trifles, and enterJainment to absurdity.
DEAR SIR, You made me promise, on leaving town, that I would write to you whenever the country afforded any thing worth writing about. The country, at present, merely as country, presents no landscape, but one undistinguished tract of snow ; vegetation is locked up in frost, and we are locked within doors, but something might be traced within doors, had I good pencil for the purpose.—Mine host, of whom you have heard a good deal, is no bad subject : suppose I make him sit for his picture.
Believe me, he is not quite the sensible intelligent man we were told he was. So much the better, I like oddities even now and then in town; still better in the country ; but in frost and snow, and all the dreary confinement of winter,-Oh! your battledore and shuttlecock are a joke to them.
You remember a long while ago (so long that I have forgot every part of the book but the name), we read Nature Displayed together. You then told me of a certain Mr. Leuwenhock, I think you
called him, whose microscope shewed the circulation of frog's blood, the scales of the scales of fishes, the bristles of mites, and every other tiny thing in the world. Now, my worthy landlord, Mr. G. R. has always such a glass as Leuwenhock’s in his noddle ; every little thing is so great to him, and he does little things, and talks of little things, with an air of such importance !-but I hate definitions ; pictures are ten times better; and now for a few sketches of my winter-quarters, and of the good man under whose government I live.
I discovered, on my first entry into his house, that every thing was in exact order, and every place inviolably appropriated to its respective use. The gentlemen were to put their hats and sticks in one corner, and the ladies their clogs in another. The very day of my arrival, I heard the family apothecary get a severe rebuke for violating the chastity of the clog-corner with his rattan. I have hitherto escaped much censure on this score : luckily I have attracted the regard of Mr. R.'s youngest sister, a grave, considerate, orderly young lady. I don't know how it is, but I have often got in favour with those
grave ladies-God knows, I little deserve it.Miss Sophia R. therefore keeps me right in many important particulars, or covers my deviations with some apology; or, if all won't do, I laugh, as is my way; Mr. R. calls me Rattleskull; says, he shall bring me into order by and bye, and there's an end on't.
By that attention to trifles, for which, from his earliest days, he was remarkable, Mr. R. made himself commodious to some persons of considerable infuence, and procured many advantages to which neither from birth nor fortune he was anywise entitled. He travelled in company with a gentleman of very high rank and distinguished abilities, by whose means he procured an introduction to many eminent men in foreign countries ; and when he returned from abroad, was often in the society of the eminent men of our own. But his brain, poor man! was like à gauze searce, it admitted nothing of any magni. tude : amidst great men and great things, it took in only the dust that fell from them.
He was reading in the newspapers, the other morning, of the marriage of the Honourable Miss W- to Sir H. S.. Ah!' said he, to think • how time passes ! I remember her grandfather, « Lord W- well ; a great man, a very great
o man. We met at Naples, and afterwards went to · Parma together. I gave him the genuine receipt • for the Parmesan cheese, which I went purposely to
procure, while he was examining some statues and • ancient manuscripts. We were ever afterwards on
the most friendly footing imaginable. I was with • him a few mornings before the marriage of Lord C.
Miss W-'s father. I remem• ber it well ;-it was at breakfast ;-I often break< fasted with him before he went to the house
; • he always eat butter'd muffins ; but when I was • there, he used to order dry toast; I always eat dry
toast.--The bride was with us; I was intimately acquainted with her too; she let me into the whole secret of the courtship. Her father's principal « inducement to the match, it was a long affair,-“the Bestate was to be settled on the young • folks at the marriage ; no, not all--part of the «B
estate, with the manor in Lincolnshire. "-But, as I was saying, we were at breakfast at • Lord W-'s. His son and the bride were by ; • Lord C. had velvet breeches, and gold clocks to his • stockings; the question was, whether this was
proper? I put it to the bride ; I made her blush, • I warrant you ;-she was a fine woman, a prodigi
ous fine woman ; she always used my wash-ball: I * wrote out the receipt for her; it was given me at • Vienna by Count O—; a very great man Count
-, and knew more of the affairs of the empire 'than any man in Germany. From him I first • learned with certainty, that the Duchess of Loróraine's two fore-teeth were false ones.
I remem• ber he had an old grey monkey.--Sister Mary, ' you have heard me tell the story of Count O- l's
monkey.'-- But here it pleased Heaven that Wil. liam called his master out of the room, and saved us from the Count and his old