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to undeceive them, and had actually begun to meditate an address for that purpose, which, I do believe, I should have delivered, when the attorney, slapping me on the shoulder with one hand, and stretching out the other to me, with an air of the greatest cordiality, cut me short, 'What say you, Mr. Sofily? fast bind fast find; what say you to finishing the matter immediately?"... This proposal being quite unexpected, utterly disconcerted me.
Between surprise, embarrassment, and the desire of relieving myself by a decision one way or other, seeing them, at the same time, full of expectation, I hastily, almost without knowing what I did, took him by the hand, and answered, Sir, with all my heart.' In short, Mr. Mirror, paper, pen, and ink were called for, and a deed drawn out, which I instantly executed. The Knight, immediately after, coming up to me, shook me by the hand, and commanding a bumper to my health, desired and insisted to see me often at Castle Holdencourt.
Being naturally of an easy temper, and seeing that the matter could not be mended, touched at the same time with the satisfaction it had diffused, I soon, in some degree, regained my good humour. More wine was called for repeatedly; and next morning I found myself at my friend Mr. B.'s house, without knowing hów or when I had been transported to it.
Upon serious deliberation, however, and after some conversation upon the subject with my wife, I am really vexed and dispirited with this affair. In making application to you, I have three views; the first merely to disburden my mind by telling the story (I fear it is a dull and tedious one); the second, to learn from any of your readers who is at the bar, whether my facility be a ground for reducing my consent ? the third, to warn persons of a similar disposition from going into company with their adversaries in a law-suit.
I am, Sir, yours, &c.
As I sincerely sympathize with Mr. Softly in his distress, I have published this letter for the first pur. pose mentioned in its conclusion, to disburden his mind of the story. As to the second, I am afraid I can be of little use to him, as a law opinion, delivered through the channel of the MIRROR, would be destitute of some of the pre-requisites, without which it would be dangerous to rely on it as the ground of legal proceeding. The third, which is a very disinterested motive, is, I believe, more charitable in him, than it will be useful to his readers. There is, I fancy, very little occasion for warning people against going into the company of those with whom they are at law, lest they should be surprised into impro. per concessions ; I have generally observed, that being in company with an adversary in a law-suit, has a greater tendency to make a man tenacious of his rights, than to dispose him to relinquish them.
No 104. SATURDAY, MAY 6, 1780.
It has been remarked, that the country-life prevails more in Great Britain than in any civilized nation in Europe. However true this observation may be in the general, there is one set of men among us, to whom, in the present times, it will by no means apply: I mean our great nobles and men of high fortune. It is indeed vain to expect, that persons in that rank of life should be able to withstand the attractions of a court, and the seductions of a luxurious capital.
It is, nevertheless, a melancholy circumstance, in travelling through this island, to find so many noble palaces deserted by their illustrious owners, even in that season of the year when, to every man of taste, the country must afford true pleasure. How mortifying is it to hear a great man tell you, that he cannot afford to live at his country-seat, and to see him, after passing a winter in London, and losing thousands in a week, reduced to the necessity of murdering the summer, by lounging from wateringplace to watering-place, or retiring with two or three humble friends to a villa in the environs of Londur, instead of living with a becoming dignity in the mansion of his ancestors ! To such men I would beg leave to recomiend the advice of King James I. who, as Lord Bacon tells us, ' was wont to be very • earnest with the country gentlemen to go from • London to their country-seats ; and sometimes • would say to them, Gentlemen, at London you are like ships in the sea, which shew like nothing ; but in your
• country-villages, you are like ships in a river, which • look like great things.'
I do not mean, however, to say, that a great man should live always in the country. The duties of his station, and the rank he holds in society, require, that he should pass part of the year in the capital; and, independent of those considerations, I believe it will be allowed, that a man of high rank, who has passed his whole life immured within the walls of his own chateau, and constantly surrounded by a circle who look
up to him, is, of all mortals, the most in. supportable:
Nay, I will go farther : I am disposed to believe, that it is an improper and a hurtful thing, even for a private gentleman of moderate fortune, to retire from the world, and betake himself altogether to a coun
'A remarkable instance of the bad consequences of abandoning society, I lately met with in a visit I had occasion to pay to a gentleman with whom ! had become acquainted at college, and whose real name I shall conceal under that of Acasto. Soon after he quitted the university, where he had been distinguished by an ardent love of literature, Acasto retired to his estate in the country, which, though not great, was fully sufficient for all his wants. There he had resided ever since; and, either from inclination or indolence, had remained a bachelor. I had not seen him for many years. Time had made some alteration on his figure; but that was little, when compared with the change I found in him in all other respects. In his dress and manners he was indeed completely rusticated; and, by living much alone, he had contracted an indifference to that decorum, and to those little attentions, without which no man can be agreeable in society. The day I arrived at his house, I found him sauntering in his garden, waiting a call to dinner, dressed in an old coat, which had once been black, a slouched hat of the same complexion, with a long pole in his hand, and with a beard that did not appear to have felt a razor for many days.
After a hearty welcome, he carried me in to dinner. In his conversation, I fourd as great a change as in his outward appearance and deportment. From living in a narrow circle, he had contracted a peculiarity in his notions, which sometimes amused from its oddity; and, from conversing chiefly with persons rather of an inferior station to himself, he had become as tenacious of his opinions, as if they had been self-evident truths, and as impatient of contradiction, as if to differ from him had been a crime.
From the same causes, the veriest trifle, particu. larly if it concerned himself, had become to him an object of importance. A country gentleman he considered as the most respectable character in nature ; and he talked as if honour, truth, and sincerity, were confined to them alone. Every man who lived in the world, he considered as a villain ; and every woman who passed much of her time in town, he made no scruple to say, was no better than she should be. At first, it astonished me to hear a man, of his good sense and benevolent dispositions, talk of some of the most amiable characters of the age in the most disrespectful terms. When I endeavoured to put him to rights, he at once cut me short, by saying, he could have no doubt of the truth of what he advanced, as he had been told such and such a thing by his friend and neighbour Mr. Downright, who scorned to flatter any man, or to tell any thing but the truth.
I soon had an opportunity of judging how far the country gentlemen were entitled to the high character my friend had given them for honour and integ