Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

nuine impudence is ever the effect of ignorance, without the least sense of it; the best and most successful Starers, now in this town, are of that nation; they have usually the advantage of the stature mentioned in the above letter of my correspondent, and generally take their stands in the eye of women of fortune ; insomuch that I have known one of them, three months after he came from plough, with a tolerable good air lead out a woman from a play, which one of our own breed, after four years at Oxford and two at the Temple, would have been afraid to look at.

I cannot tell how to account for it ; but these people have usually the preference to our own fools, in the opinion of the sillier part of womankind. Perhaps it is, that an English coxcomb is seldom so obsequious as an Irish one; and when the design of pleasing is visible, an absurdity in the way towards it is easily forgiven.

But those who are downright impudent, and go on without reflection that they are such, are more to be tolerated than a set of fellows among us who profess impudence with an air of humour, and think to carry off the most inexcusable of all faults in the world, with no other apology than saying in a gay tone, “ I 66 put an impudent face upon the matter.” No: no man shall be allowed the advantages of impudence, who is conscious that he is such; if he knows he is impudent, he may as well be otherwise ; and it shall be expected that he blush, when he sees he makes another do it ; for nothing can atone for the want of modesty; without which beauty is ungraceful, and wit detestable.

[ocr errors]

No. XXI. SATURDAY, MARCH 24.

......... Locus est & pluribus umbris.

HOR. There's room enough, and each may bring his friend.

CREECH.

I AM sometimes very much troubled when I reflect upon the three great professions of Divinity, Law, and Physic; how they are each of them overburdened with practitioners, and filled with multitudes of ingenious gentlemen that starve one another.

We may divide the clergy into generals, field-officers, and subalterns. Among the first we may reckon bishops, deans, and archdeacons : among the second are doctors of divinity, prebendaries, and all that wear scarves: the rest are comprehended under the subalterns. As for the first class, our constitution preserves it from any redundancy of incumbents, notwithstanding competitors are numberless. Upon a strict calculation it is found that there has been a great exceeding of late years in the second division, several brevets having been granted for the converting of subalterns into scarf-officers; insomuch that within my memory the price of lutestring is raised above two-pence in a yard. As for the subalterns, they are not to be numbered. Should our clergy once enter into the corrupt practice of the laity, by the splitting of their freeholds, they would be able to carry most of the elections in England.

The body of the law is no less incumbered with superfluous members, that are like Virgil's army, which he tells us, was so crowded, many of them had not room to use their weapons. This prodigious society of men may be divided into the litigious and peaceable. Under the first are comprehended all those who are

carried down in coach-fulls to Westminster-hall, every morning in term time. Martial's description of this species of lawyers is full of humour:

Iras & verba locant.

« Men that hire out their words and anger;" that are more or less passionate according as they are paid for it, and allow their client a quantity of wrath proportionable to the fee which they receive from him. I must however observe to the reader, that above three parts of those whom I reckon among the litigious, are such as are only quarrelsome in their hearts, and have no opportunity of shewing their passion at the bar: nevertheless, as they do not know what strifes may arise, they appear at the hall every day, that they may shew themselves in readiness to enter the lists whenever there shall be occasion for them.

The peaceable lawyers are, in the first place, many of the benchers of the several inns of court, who seem to be the dignitaries of the law, and are endowed with those qualifications of mind that accomplish a man rather for a ruler than a pleader. These men live peaceably in their habitations, eating once a day, and dancing one a year, for the honour of their respective societies,

Another numberless branch of peaceable lawyers are those young men who, being placed at the inns of court in order to study the laws of their country, fre. quent the play-house more than Westminster-hall, and are seen in all public assemblies, except in a court of justice. I shall say nothing of those silent and busy multitudes that are employed within dvors in the draiving up of writings and conveyances; nor of those greater numbers that palliate their want of business. with a pretence to such chamber practice.

If, in the third place, we look into the profession of physic, we shall find a most formidable body of men; the sight of them is enough to make a man serious; for we may lay it down as a maxim, that when a nation abounds in physicians, it grows thin of people. Sir William Temple is very much puzzled to find out a reason why the northern hive, as he calls it, does not send out such prodigious swarms, and overrun the world with Goth and Vandals, as it did formerly; but had that excellent author observed that there were no students in physic among the subjects of Thor and Woden, and that this science very much flourishes in the north at present, he might have found a better solution for this difficulty than any of those he has made use of. This body of men in our own country may be described like the British army in Cæsar's time; some of them slay in chariots, and some on foot. If the infantry do less execution than the charioteers, it is because they cannot be carried so soon into all quarters of the town, and dispatch so much business in so short a time. Besides this body of regular troops there are stragglers, who, without being duly listed and enrolled, do infinite mischief to those who are so unlucky as to fall into their hands.

There are, besides the abovementioned, inrumerable retainers to physic, who, for want of other patients, amuse themselves with the stifling of cats in an air-pump, cutting up dogs alive, or impaling of insects upon the point of a needle for microscopical observations; besides those that are employed in the gathering of weeds, and the chace of butterflies; not to mention the cockleshell-merchants and spidercatchers.

When I consider how each of these professions are crowded with multitudes that seek their livelihood in them, and how many men of merit there are in each of them, who may be rather said to be of the science, than the profession, I very much wonder at the humour of parents, who will not rather choose to place their sons in a way of life where an honest industry cannot but thrive, than in stations where the greatest probity, learning, and good sense may miscarry. How many men are country-curates, that might have made themselves aldermen of London, by a right improvement of a smaller sum of money than what is usually laid out upon a learned education? A sober frugal person, of slender parts and a slow apprehension, might have tırived in trade, though he 'starves upon physic; as a man would be well enough pleased to buy silks of one, whom he would not venture to feel his pulse. Vagellius is careful, studious, and obliging, but withal a little thick skulled: he has not a single client but might have had abundance of customers. The misfortune is, that parents take a liking to a particular profession, and therefore desire their sons may be of it; whereas, in so great an affair of life, they should consider the genius and abilities of their children more than their own inclinations.

It is the great advantage of a trading nation that there are very few in it so dull and heavy, who may not be placed in stations of life which may give them an opportunity of making their fortunes. A wellregulated commerce is not like law, physic, or divinity, to be overstocked with hands; but, on the contrary, flourishes by multitudes, and gives employment to all its professors. Fleets of merchantmen are so many'squadrons of floating shops, that vend our wares and manufactures in all the markets of the world, and find out chapmen under both the tropics.

« VorigeDoorgaan »