페이지 이미지

plied philosophy; and, though seemingly destitute of wisdom, he was really wise. No reading or study had contributed to disenchant the fairy-land around him. Every thing furnished him with an opportunity of mirth; and, though some thought him, from his insensibility, a fool, he was such an idiot as philosophers should wish to imitate; for all philosophy is only forcing the trade of bappiness, when nature seems to deny the means.

They who, like our slave, can place themselves on that side of the world in which every thing appears in a pleasing light, will find something in every occurrence to excite their good humour. The most calamitous events, either to themselves or others, can bring no new affliction; the whole world is to them a theatre, on which comedies only are acted. All the bustle of heroism, or the rants of ambition, serve only to heighten the absurdity of the scene, and make the humour more poignant. They feel, in short, as little anguish at their own distress, or the complaints of others, as the undertaker, though dressed in black, feels sorrow at a funeral.

Of all the men I ever read of, the famous cardinal de Retz possessed this bappiness of temper in the highest degree. As he was a man of gallantry, and despised all that wore the pedantic appear. ance of philosophy, wherever pleasure was to be sold, he was generally foremost to raise the auc. tion. Being a universal admirer of the fair sex, when he found one lady cruel he generally fell in love with another, from whom he expected a more favourable reception. If she too rejected his addresses, he never thought of retiring into deserts, or pining in hopeless distress : he persuaded bimself, that instead of loving the lady, he only fancied



that he had loved her, and so all was well again. When Fortune wore her angriest look, and he at Jast fell into the power of his most deadly enemy, cardinal Mazarine (being confined a close prisoner in the castle of Valenciennes), he never attempted to support his distress by wisdom or philosophy, for he pretended to neither. He only laughed at himself and his persecutor, and seemed infinitely pleased at his new situation. In this, mansion of distress, though secluded from his friends, though denied all the amusements, and even the conve. niences of life, he still retained his good humour, laughed at all the little spite of his enemies, and carried the jest so far as to be revenged by writing the life of his gavler.

All that the wisdom of the proud can teach is, to be stubborn or sullen under misfortunes. The car. dinal's example will instruct us to be merry in cir. cumstances of the highest affiiction. It matters not whether our good humour be construed by others into insensibility, or even idiotism ; it is happiness to ourselves, and none but a fool would measure his satisfaction by what the world thinks of it: for my own part, I never pass by one of our prisons for debt, that I do not envy that felicity which is still going forward among those people, who forget the cares of the world by being shut out from its silly ambition.

The happiest silly fellow I ever knew, was of the number of those good-natured creatures that are said to do no harm to any but themselves. Whenever he fell into misery, he usually called it seeing life. If his head was broke by a Chairman, of his pocket picked by a sharper, he comforted himself by imitating the Hibernian dialect of the one, or the more fashionable cant of the other,

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

Nothing came amiss to him. His inattention to money-inatlers had incensed his father to such a degree, that all the intercession of friends in his favour was fruitless. The old gentleman was on his death-bed. The whole family, and Dick among the number, gathered around him. 'I leave my second son, Andrew,' said the expiring miser,' my whole estate, and desire him to be frugal.' Andrew, in a sorrowful tone, as is nsual on these oc. casions, prayed Heaven to prolong his life and health to enjoy it himself. 'I recommend Simon, my third son, to the care of his elder brother, and leave him beside four thousand pounds.' 'Ah! father,' cried Şimon, in great affliction to be sure,

may Heaven give you life and health to enjoy it yourself!' At last, turning to poor Dick, “ As for you, you bave always been a sad dog; yon'll never come to good; you'll never be rich ; I'll leave you a shilling to buy a halter.' * Ah! father,' cries Dick, without any emotion, ' may Heaven give you life and health to enjoy it yourself!' This was all the trouble the loss of fortune gave this thoughtless, imprudent creature. However, the tenderness of an uncle recompensed the neglect of a father; and my friend is now not only excessively goodhumoured, but competently rich.

Yes, let the world cry out at a bankrupt who appears at a ball, at an author who laughs at the public which pronounces him a dunce, at a general who smiles at the reproach of the vulgar, or the lady who keeps her good-humour in spite of scandal; but such is the wisest behaviour that any of us .can possibly assume. It is certainly a better way to oppose calamity by dissipation, than to take

up the arms of reason or resolution to oppose it : by the first method, we forget our miseries; by,

the last, we only conceal them from others: by struggling with misfortunes, we are sure to receive some wounds in the conflict; but a sure method to come off victorious, is by running away.



REMEMBER to have read in some philosopher (I believe in Tom Brown's works), that, let a man's character, sentiments, or complexion, be what they will, he can find company in London to match them. If he be splenetic, he may every day meet companions on the seats in St. James's Park, with whose groans he may mix his own, and pathetically talk of the weather. If he be passionate, he may vent his rage among the old orators at Slaughter's coffee-house, and damn the nation because it keeps him from starving. If he be phlegmatic, he may sit in silence at the Humdrum club in Ivy-lane; and, if actually mad, he may find very good company in Moorfields, either at Bedlam or the Foun dry, ready to cultivate a nearer acquaintance.

But, although such as have a knowledge of the town, may easily class themselves with tempers congenial to their own, a countryman who comes to live in London finds nothing more difficult. With regard to myself, none ever tried with more assiduity, or came off with such indifferent success. I spent a whole season in the search, during which time my name has been enrolled in societies, lodges, convocations, and meetings, without number. To some I was introduced by a friend, to others in

vited by an advertisement; to these I introduced myself, and to those I changed my name to gain admittance. In short, no coquette was ever more solicitous to match her ribands to her complexion, than I to suit my club to my temper; for I was too obstinate to bring my temper to conform to it.

The first club I entered upon coming to town, was that of the Choice Spirits. The name was entirely suited to my taste; I was a lover of mirth, good-humour, and even sometimes of fun, from my childhood.

As no other passport was requisite but the payment of two shillings at the door, I introduced myself without farther ceremony to the members, who were already assembled, and bad, for some time, begun upon business. The grand, with a mallet in his hand, presided at the head of the table. I could not avoid, upon my entrance, making use of all my skill in physiognomy, in order to discover that superiority of genius in men who had taken a title so superior to the rest of mankind. I expected to see the lines of every face marked with strong thinking; but, though I had some skill in this science, I could for my life discover nothing but a pert simper, fat, or profound stupidity.

My speculations were soon interrupted by the grand, who had knocked down Mr. Spriggins for a song. I was, upon this, whispered by one of the company who sat next me, that I should now see something touched off to a nicety, for Mr. Spriggins was going to give us Mad Tom in all its glory. Mr. Spriggins endeavoured to excuse himself; for, as he was to act a madman and a king, it was im. possible to go through the part properly without a crown and chains. His excuses were over-ruled by a great majority, and with much vociferation. The

« 이전계속 »