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ing his grand-aunt Anna Maria's lappet to the chair, while she sat at dinner, to her utter confusion as soon as she attempted to quit her place.
I found him in the little apartment behind his shop, with a large book open before him, in which he seemed to have been writing; and on the back of which was lettered, not unaptly, as will appear from what follows, Day-Book.
He observed that he had been just bringing up his accounts to the close of yesterday; but added, with a shake of the head, “ How unlucky it is, it should have happened on a Sunday! - I shall be
:- I believe I may say without vanity,” said he, seeing me somewhat at a loss to understand him, “ that there is not a man in the parish who makes so many fools as myself. Why, sir, I have averaged, for the last fourteen years, thirty fools per annum;
and it would have been more, but for that plaguy gout which confined me last spring.--Ah! it was a great loss to me; I had not a single fool, except my apothecary's apprentice, whom I sent to the upper end of Islington to get me some genuine pantilum pulverosum ;- but then, the year before was a plentiful year, a very plentiful year. Do, sir, let me read you my journal for the first of April in that year.” I assented : he put on his spectacles, and read as follows. " 1st April, :1790.-Got up early this morning, to
prepare for business-Sally still a-bed-Flung the watchman a shilling out of the window, to rap at my door, and cry fire-Sally started up in a fright, overturned my best wig, which stood in the passage, and ran into the street half naked—Was obliged to give her a shilling, to quiet her.
" Ten o'clock.-Sent a letter to Mr. Plume, the un
dertaker, telling him that my neighbour old Frank Fuz, who was married on Monday to his late wife's step-daughter, had died suddenly last night-Saw six of Plume's men go in, and heard
old Fuz very loud with them. “ Invited all our club to dine at deputy Dripping's,
and invited him to dine with alderman Grub, at Hampstead. — N.B. The alderman is on a visit
to his son-in-law in Kent. « Twelve o'clock.- Received an order, in the name
of a customer in Essex, for six pounds of snuff, to be sent by the coach-Smoked the bite, and kicked the messenger out of the shop.-
N.B. Not catch old birds, &c. “ One o'clock.-Afraid Sally would play some trick
upon me in dressing my dinner; so went to get a steak at a coffeehouse-Chalked the waiter's back as he gave me my change. — N.B. Two
bad shillings. “ Asked an old woman in Cheapside, what was the
matter with her hat ? - She took it off; and while I was calling her April fool, a boy ran
off with my handkerchief in his hand. “ Tapped a Blue-school boy on the shoulder, and asked what he had got behind him?
He answered, A fool — The people laughed at this :
I did not see much in it. “ Three o'clock.–Sent Sally to the Tower, to see
a democrat; carried the key of the cellar with
her, and spent me half-a-crown in coach-hire. Gave Giles my shopman a glass of brandy, which
he took for a glass of wine. Giles unable to
attend shop the next day.” I readily prevailed on my old acquaintance to give me a copy of this diary, on my promising to transmit it to you.
It was with more difficulty I drew from him, that his neighbour Fuz never from that day bought any more tobacco at his shop; and that, two days afterwards, he received a letter by post, from his Essex customer, threatening him with an action for assaulting his servant, and ordering him to furnish his bill immediately: that the club had sent him to Coventry; and that he had lost deputy Dripping's interest for the office of churchwarden, to which he then aspired.
But (to quit my old acquaintance and his diary) even this custom, sir, absurd as it is, will afford the moralist a topic of useful instruction : the danger of credulity on the one hand, and of over-caution on the other, may be inferred from the exploits of an Aprilday fool-maker. The young and inexperienced will find this one day, within the circle of their own acquaintance, no bad sketch of the world as it is every day, and in every age: much deception, much falsehood; every body suspicious of his neighbour, and every body more ready to join in the shout of triumph at an instance of successful imposition, than to unite in detecting and punishing the deceiver. The practical professor of this honourable art too, if he have any sense remaining, may take an useful hint, that, however successful he may be, he is open to the same imposition from his more skilful brethren; and that ridicule, when it falls on him, will fall with augmented force.: at all events, that this contemptible and vulgar talent, though in season but for a day, may produce most lasting effects; and that a friend may be lost, and an enemy created, by the momentary triumph of ill-founded pride and bastard humour.
The letter of Mr. Octavius was read at our society, and judged worthy of admission.--Mr. Barnaby and Mr. Blunt made some trifling objections, which were soon over-ruled by Mr. Allworth. I was tempted almost myself to enter a clause in favour of those industrious mechanics, whose turn to be witty comes round only once a-year. I own, it has sometimes given me a sensible pleasure to contemplate, among the petty triumphers of this one day, those worthy gentlemen who have served as butts all the other 364. The muddy-headed part of society, or what Lucian calls the TaxES TWV av@gwtwv, must be kept in good-humour with themselves, or they will not proceed with cheerfulness and activity in the duties of life which they are destined to fulfil. I think therefore, that, in regard to this description of men, there is a degree of injustice and impolicy in discountenancing their jokes, and in refusing to open our gates to them for twelve hours, while we sport without scruple on their manors as long as it is convenient.
I am very easy myself in this particular; and, if it were not for the dignity and interests of my calling, the whole parish might try their wit upon me, so long as the effects of it were confined to the first of April : and I think there would be no great fear. of their lasting much longer, as, for want of Attic salt, these jokes do rarely keep above a day. I am a voluntary martyr to the facetiousness of an old maid-servant, who acts in quality of housekeeper, at every return of this Saturnalia : for these twenty' years she has regularly sent us up a pie with nothing but the crust; and my mother and myself as regularly fall to, as if we had set our hearts upon this part of the dinner alone. If she should ever throw up this long-established custom, which she
bolds by a sort of charter, we should feel much chagrined at the disappointment, and regard it as one of those ominous lapses of time, in which some cement is loosened, or some prop succumbs, to warn us of the ruin of the fabric of life.
Yet, although this holiday humour may, I think, be fairly allowed to a certain description of persons, whose play is innocent, and whose jokes are powerless, yet it is a dangerous engine in the hands of those who have malice enough to meditate mischiefs, and wit enough to render them successful. In such a case, however, the victor has nothing but a laugh to support him, and the vanquished has nothing to shame him, unless truth and unsuspicion can do it. It is in fact in this instance a disgrace to be triumphant, and an honour to be defeated. Yet the mere momentary feelings of the parties are not alone to be considered; for, as my correspondent observes, very solid mischiefs may frequently result from this meretricious mirth. I have seen an amiable woman seriously disordered by the false alarm it has occasioned her; and many a very manly mind has been disqualified for the business of the whole day before him, by some dreadful intelligence at his entrance into the breakfast-room. But, besides all this, it is ever a dangerous thing to tamper with truth; and, however good-natured our meaning may be, the ha
may take root in the most diminutive trifles, and may gain upon us under the cover of various denominations and excuses, till it usurps a leading influence on our conduct and deportment.
There is surely something sacred in simplicity; and no well-constituted mind can bear to abuse it. To one of this make, it is like leading the blind into the ditch, to foster the mistakes of a person in order to oppress him with ridicule. The world, with its