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 of my 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 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 merchant. 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.

Accordingly, before the term of my apprenticeship was elapsed, my master wrote to Sir George, informing him that I had taken up with bad company; that I had neglected my business; that I had not profited by his instructions; and recom

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

mending to him to try me in something else, and, in all events, to remove me to some other place.

“ After a good deal of deliberation, it was resol. ved to try to set me up as a farmer; and I entered upon the management of a considerable farm. But in this business I found I did not succeed


better than in my former. Notwithstanding the good instructions I received at a club of very honest fellows, at which we met every week to talk about farming and improvements, somehow or other my crops never paid for the expense of raising them; and, in a few years, I found that I had improved away every shilling of my capital. Sir George then proposed to me that I should quit all thoughts of business, and take up my residence in his house; I cheerfully accepted his proposal, and have lived with him for fourteen years past.

In his house, I find every thing provided for me, and I am perfectly contented, having nothing to care for. Sir George, who is beloved and respected by all the neighbourhood, has frequently crowds of company who resort to his house; but, as he does not drink himself, whenever the company wish to drink a little more than usual, he deputes me to act his part as landlord. In that capacity, I do not fail to push about the bottle; and I find myself in a situation perfectly to my wish. As I am a good shot, I spend great part of my time in shooting ; and Mr. Joseph, for that is the name I go by, is made a welcome guest at all the gentlemen's houses in the neighbourhood; the more so, as I seldom make a visit without carrying along with me some of the game I have killed. I never fail to make one at all the sports in the neighbourhood. At a village wedding I am a considerable personage ; and there is not a country girl who does not think it an honour to dance with Mr. Joseph. When Lady Fielding makes a visit, I generally attend her in the absence of Sir George. The only part of my employment which I find disagreeable is, that sometimes, in the winter evenings, I am set a-reading to my Lady; and, among other publications, I have read over to her most of the Mirrors. My Lady likes them exceedingly; so do I too, but not for the same reason that she does; I like them,-because they are short. In the course of this employment, I read S. M.'s letter, and have already given you my reasons for being much dissatisfied with what she writes.

I can make no doubt, that, were she in my situation, she would think she had much reason to be unhappy. She would, perhaps, complain that her brother was so rich, and she so poor; she would say, that it was an employment below her to act as toast-master to her brother's drunken company ; that it was despicable to be known only by the name of Mr. Joseph ; that she could not but consider herself as in a contemptible situation, being unfit for any employment, or to act any higher part than that of a sportsman, a dancer at a country-wedding, or an humble attendant on my Lady Fielding. But I am of a very different opinion. I certainly neither have the fortune, nor do I meet with the same respect that my brother, Sir George does ;—but what does that signify ?--I eat, drink, and am merry, enjoy good health and good spirits ; and I have neither the trouble of managing a great estate, nor am I obliged to be circumspect in my conduct, in order that I may act up, as I hear my brother and some of his friends express it, to a certain dignity of character. In a word, I am happy enough, and I think Madam S. M. might have been so too, if she had had a mind.

“ I am, &c.


The situation which is described in the above letter is not, I believe, altogether an uncommon one. I should be very unwilling to make Mr. Joseph displeased with it; on the contrary, I think his cheerfulness and good-humour are to be envied. At the same time, without expressing those sentiments which, I doubt not, will occur to many of my readers, upon the perusal of his letter, I cannot bút observe, that I have sometimes felt regret, that, in certain circumstances, a more equal distribution of fortune were not made among the chil. dren of some great landed proprietors, or that care were not taken to moderate their education to that style of life in which their circumstances are likely to place them. A young man, who is left a smail patrimony, ought not surely to be accustomed to habits of extravagance and dissipation, but ought to be early inured to economy, and be qualified for some business. Without this, though accident may sometimes conduct such young men to fortune or to eminence, there must be always great danger of their proving unfit for any valuable purpose

in life, of their deserving no higher appellation than that of Mr. Joseph.


No. 70. SATURDAY, JANUARY S, 1780.

Ingentes dominos, et clare nomina fama,

Illustrique graves nobilitate domos,


In an excursion I made some months ago to the county of — I paid a visit to Antonio, an old

acquaintance of my father's, whom I had known from my infancy. He had been exceedingly attentive to me when a boy ; and, as he was something of a sportsman, my guardians often permitted me to accompany him to the field, where, as indeed on every occasion, he treated me with the ease and freedom of a companion and an equal. This behaviour, so different from that to which boys are generally accustomed, while it flattered my self-importance, gave me so much favour and affection for Antonio, that I never saw him afterwards, without feeling those agreeable sensations, which accompany the recollection of that happy period of life, when we catch the pleasures of the moment, equally regardless of what is past or to come. I had not heard of Antonio for

many months. When I arrived at the village where he lived, I hastened to his house without any previous inquiry. The countenance of the servant made me suspect all was not well; and, when I entered his apartment, I found him in the last stage of a dropsy. The sensations that crowded on my mind at the squalid and death-like appearance of the good old man, so different from those in which I was prepared to indulge, had almost overcome me; but the growing emotion was checked by the countenance with which he beheld it. No sooner was I seated, than, taking my hand, — What a change,' said he, with a look of melancholy composure, me!—I was two years older than your father ; had he been alive, he would have been seventy-four next Christmas.'

The particulars of the conversation, though they have made a lasting impression on my mind, would be uninteresting to many of my readers; but as the life of Antonio will afford an important lesson to the younger part of them, I give the following

is here, since you

last saw

« VorigeDoorgaan »