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abating some necessary infirmities; a circumstance I attribute to her even economy and hereditary composure of spirits, which have kept the stream of life from exhausting itself in floods and torrents. To this smooth turn of character I do also attribute the great age to which most of my ancestors have arrived. I never shall forget one of my great-grandfather's letters on the death of his youngest brother, who was cut off at the age of seventy-one, wherein, after calling him a giddy young fellow, he tells us that he met his death in the act of pulling on a tight pair of boots after eating a bason of broth with Cayenne pepper. It has ever since been looked upon in our family as an unpardonable debauch, to swallow any thing that can raise the smallest combustion within us.
No 2. TUESDAY, MARCH 13.
« Olet lucernam."
Before I proceed in this my undertaking, I think it necessary to give a hint respecting it to my worthy contemporaries. As my mother and myself are the last of the Olive-branch family, and as it is one of our hereditary statutes (to which we always pay implicit obedience) to let none of our manuscripts stray into other hands, I hope to be encouraged to prosecute a plan, which, if pursued for any length of time, will put my countrymen in possession of this
valuable stock of ancestorial wisdom before we take our leave of them, without
breach of our family institutes, which
are as solemn as those of the Medes and Persians. The fruits also of the quiet and impartial observation of what hath passed around me these five-and-forty years, may be of some importance to them; and as the complacent turn of thought and morality, peculiar to our race, will perish with me, I wish to persuade the public to make the most of me while they have me, and to follow the example of the philosopher Thales, who, foreseeing a future dearth of olives, bought up all he could find, on a prudent speculation, to convince the world that he knew how to be rich if he chose it. Should I meet with this good disposition in the public towards me, I engage, on my part, to render these my lucubrations as various and amusing as possible; and as an Englishman is a fickle being, and in the space of one week will be full of whim, wit, wine, satire, sentiment, and sorrow, which succeed each other like the farming courses of turnips, barley, clover, wheat, the one making preparation for the other, I shall take pains to suit this diversity of character as much as may consist with the discretion and decency which are to run uniformly through the whole. I shall procure also, on the same account, the
very best barometer that can be made, in order to consult the state and influence of the weather in this precarious climate; having enough to contend with, without entering into a contest with the elementş. For I could wish that such of my papers as are of a gay and sprightly turn, should not have to combat with chronic pains and a cloudy atmosphere, and that my recommendation of rural pleasures should not fall on the rainiest day of the year. I would be cautious, too, of dwelling too much on domestic occupations, when all the world are invited abroad by the salubrity and cheerfulness of the weather;
“ And young and old come forth to play,
This complaisance will be sufficiently rewarded, if it gain me the appellation of a polite writer. I would fain be felix Oliva and not foliis Oleaster amaris; which phrases I beg such of my readers as have been at school to translate to their mothers, aunts, and wives, that the ladies in particular may know what they have to expect from me; for my natural complacency of temper has always inspired me with a peculiar regard to the softer sex. mise not to handle them more roughly than their old friend Mr. Ironside, or the gentle and courtly Spectator. When I venture on the subject of their failings, it is not by violence, but by reiterated endeavours, that I shall expect to carry my point; and where it is my fate to encounter a flinty bosom, I shall cherish a hope, that the unwearied train of my admonitions may at length leave some track or vestige, like the foot-path which Pliny tells us is sometimes worn on the hardest stones, by the constant passage of the little pismires with their stores and merchandise.
If any choleric spirit, or gentleman whose honesty is swallowed up in his honour, any green gamester, any prætextatus adulter, any knight of industry, or loose-stocking hero, imagine himself reflected
upon in the course of the work, the only revenge he can have of me will be to speak in praise of my speculations; for as to fighting, I assure him, I am a very peaceful man, and will not, if I can help it, meet him either in this world or in the next. I declare also, as plainly, that I write only to those in whose breasts there is some portion of native English worth, however modified or obscured: some original stuff there must be of staunch and staple quality, or nothing can be done effectually in the way
I give up all pretensions to please minds without religion, sense, or sensibility; for to such there is no access : and before any young gentleman, returned from his Italian tour, take my paper into his hand, I should wish him to have resided a year with his friends in the country, to have worn out his silk coat, and to have recovered a little of our tramontane principles, and the rustic probity of his rude forefathers. But, however frequently I shall appeal to religion and morality for the support of my observations, I shall allow myself a reasonable use of ridicule and satire, softening them as much as possible with all the urbanity that can enter into their composition; for as the sharpest vinegar is made from the sweetest wines, so that raillery is the keenest, which flows from good-humour and complacency.
On this subject it may be necessary to add a caution to some of our London sparks, against supposing that they can elude the observation of a country parson amidst the press of folly and fashion ; for I assure them that I have correspondents who send me the most secret accounts of their histories and characters. It is well known to my correspondent, myself, and his mother, that the haughty Appius does not know his own father; and if the gallant Clodius cannot write a grammatical sentence, it is a circumstance which I am apprised of as well as his mistress.
I consider it as one of the severest conditions of this my
undertaking, that I must counteract in many instances the natural complacency of my temper, which leads me to be tender towards all mankind, and to qualify rather than expose their failings and their vices. A pusillanimous attack would only serve to provoke the courage of the enemy, by betraying a diffidence of the strength of my cause. I have therefore thoroughly made up my mind to pursue folly and depravity into all their entrenchments, to follow them from the gaming-house to the palace, and keep up with them in their curricles and phaëtons.
I shall consider nothing as sacred, but Virtue, Poverty, and Misfortune. No sacrifice will be made to the mode, but where the mode has sacrificed to *nature and to reason; on the contrary, frequent attempts will be made to rescue many obsolete usages of our ancestors, which had utility and good sense on their side, from perishing in the lump with longcurled perriwigs, pug-dogs, and body-coachmen. For the necessary information in the prosecution of this plan, I trust to the fidelity and exertions of my correspondents in town, who have promised me their best endeavours towards the supply of such facts as will serve to ground my reflections upon. I feel indeed already all the weight of my undertaking; but am animated by the persuasion that some of the most intelligent of my countrymen or countrywomen will now and then give me a holiday, by a seasonable contribution.
The first check my courage received was in the very threshold of my work: I was not able, with all my pains, to discover a name for it, in the whole compass of the English language, that could meet the approbation of any three of my friends. Some were too short, some were too long, some were too high, some were too low; some they did not like, they did