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hardly, in any case, should we see the laws of justice finally put in execution.
There can be no good reason, therefore, for ob serving the rules of what is called poetical justice. The effect which a departure from these rules produces, affords the highest possible testimony in favour of virtue. It shows that, where virtue meets with calamities and disappointments, this, instead of lessening it in our estimation, only attaches us so much the more warmly to its interests; and that, where vice is successful, instead of creating a feeling in its favour, this only increases our indignation against it. Were virtue always fortunate, were vice always unprosperous, that principle would be enfeebled, by which we desire the reward of the one, and the punishment of the other.
N° 78. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 1780.
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR.
SIR, The praises of friendship, and descriptions of the happiness arising from it, I remember to have met with in almost every book and poem since first I could read. I was never much addicted to reading: and, in this instance, I think, I have little reason to put confidence in authors. How it may be in their experience, I know not; but in mine, this same virtue of friendship has tended very little to my happiness; on the contrary, Sir, when I tell you my
situation, you will find that I am almost ruined by my friends.
From my, earliest days I was reckoned one of the best-natured fellows in the world; and, at school, though I must confess I did not acquire so much learning as many of my companions; yet, even there, I was remarkable for the acquisition of friends. Even there, too, I acquired them at some expense; I was, flogged, I dare say, an hundred times, for the faults, of others, but was too generous, ever to peach; my companions were generous, fellows too; but it always happened, I don't know how, that my generosity was on the losing side of the adventure,
I had not been above three years at college, when the death of an uncle put me in possession of a very considerable estate. As I was not violently inclined towards literature, I soon, took the opportunity, which this, presented me, of leaving the university, and entering upon the world. I put myself under the tuition of one of my companions, who generally spent the vacations, and indeed some of the terms too, in London; and took up my residence in that. city. There I needed not that propensity, which I have told you I always possessed, to acquire a' multitude of friends; I found myself surrounded by them, in every tavern and coffee-house about town. But I soon experienced, that though the commodity was plenty, the price was high. Besides a considerable mortgage on my, estate, of which one of my best friends contrived to possess himself, I was. obliged to expose my life in a couple of duels, and had very near, lost it, by disease, in that course of friendship which I underwent in the metropoliş. All this was more a social sacrifice to others than a gratification to myself. Naturally rather of a sober disposition, I found more frequently disgust than pleasure amidst those, scenes of dissipation in which I was engaged.
I was often obliged to roar out a catch expressive of our happiness, at the head of a long table in a tavern, though I would almost have exchanged my place for the bench of a galley-slave; and to bellow for a bumper, when I would as 'soon have swallowed the bitterest drug in the shop of my apothecary.
From this sort of bondage I contrived to emancipate myself by matrimony. I married the sister of one of my friends, a girl good-natured and thoughtless like myself, with whom I soon after retired into the country, and set out upon what we thought a sober, well-regulated plan. The situation was so distant, as to be quite out of the reach of my former town-companions; provisions were cheap, and servants faithful : in short, every thing so circumstanced, that we made no doubt of living considerably within our income. Our manner of life, however, was to be as happy as prudent. By the improvement of my estate, I was to be equally amused and enriched; my skill in sportsmanship (for I had acquired that science to great perfection at the university) was to • procure vigour to my constitution, and dainties to my table ; and, against the long nights of winter, we were provided with an excellent neighbourhood.
The last-mentioned article is the only one which we have found come entirely up to our expectations. My talent for friend-making has indeed extended the limits of neighbourhood a good deal farther than the word is commonly understood to reach. The parish which is not a small one,—the county which is proportionally extensive, comes all within the denomination of neighbourhood with us; and my neighbour Goostry, who pays me an annual sporting visit of several weeks, lives at least fifty miles off.
Some of those neighbours, who always become friends at my house, have endeavoured to pay me for their entertainment with their advice as to the culti
vation of my farm, or the management of my estate ; but I have generally found their counsel, like other friendly exertions, put me out of pocket in the end. Their theories of agriculture failed in my practice of them; and the ingenious men they recommended to me for tenants, seldom paid their rent by their ingenuity. One gentleman, in particular, was so much penetrated by my kindness and hospitality, that he generously communicated to ine a project he had formed, which he showed me to be infallible, for acquiring a great fortune in a very short time, and offered me an equal share in the profits, upon my advancing the sum of five hundred pounds, to enable him to put his plan more speedily into execution. But, about a twelvemonth after, I was informed that his project had miscarried, and that my five hundred pounds were lost in the wreck of it. This gentleman is almost the only one of my friends, who, after having been once at my house, does not choose to frequent it again.
My wife is not a whit less happy in acquiring friends than myself. Besides all her relations, of whom (for I chose a woman of family) she has a very great number, every lady she meets at visits, at church, or at the yearly races in our country-town, is so instantaneously charmed with her manners and conversation, that she finds it impossible to leave our part of ihe country without doing herself the pleasure of waiting on Mrs. Hearty at her own house. Mrs. Hearty's friends are kind enough to give advice too, as well as mine. After such visits, I generally find some improvement in the furniture of my house, the dress of my wife, or the livery of my servants.
The attentions of our friends are sometimes carried farther than mere words or visits of compliment; yet, even then, unfortunately, their favours are just so many taxes upon us. When I receive a present
of a delicate salmon, or a nice haunch of venison, it is, but a signal for all my good neighbours to come and eat at my expense; and some time ago, when a nephew of my wife, settled abroad, sent me an hogshead of excellent claret, it cost me, in entertainments for the honour of the liquor, what might have purchased a tun. from the wine-merchant.
After so many instances in which my friendships were hurtful to my, fortune, I wished to hit on the way to making some of them beneficial to it. For, this purpose, my wife and I have, for a good while past, been employed in looking out for some snug office, or reversion, to which my interest with several powerful friends might recommend me. But, somehow or other, our expectations have been always disappointed ; not from any want of inclination, in our friends to serve us, as we have been repeatedly, assured, but from various unforeseen accidents, to which expectations of that sort are particularly, liable. In the course of these solicitations, I was led to engage in the political interests, of a gentleman, on whose influence I built the strongest hopes of success, in my own schemes; and I flattered myself, that, from the friendly footing on which I stood with my. neighbours, I might be of considerable service to him. This indeed, he is extremely, ready to acknowledge, though he has never yet found an opportunity, of returning the favour ; but, in the meantime, it kept my table open to all his friends, as well as my own, apd. coșt me, besides, a head-ache twice a week during the whole period of the canvas.
In short, Mr. MIRROR, I find I can afford to keep myself in friends no longer. I mean to give them warning of this my resolution as speedily as possible. Be so good, therefore, as inform sych of them, as read your paper, that I have shut my gates, locked, my, cellar, turned off my cook, disposed of my dogs,