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man's former self to his present self, which might run as follows:
Though perhaps you recollect with no great cordiality or esteem the person who now takes the liberty of addressing you, I feel so much interest in your honour and happiness, that I cannot refuse myself the satisfaction of laying before you some truths which you may turn greatly to account. I own I cannot but complain bitterly of the contempt with which you treat a person born of as good a family as yourself
, and bred to the same expectations, and one too whom you formerly loved better than your father or mother, and as much as your
“ If I am rightly informed, sir, you have extended this illiberal conduct to my friends, and have represented Mr. Shortland as a person of mean condition, to whom, nevertheless, you are in a great measure obliged for your present elevation. As to myself, be assured, sir, your efforts to cast oblivion and obscurity around me, will only make me the more noticed ; and that, whatever comparisons shall be made, they will be to the disadvantage of yourself. I do not conceive in what circumstance you pretend to be my superior, except in the base article of wealth. You may be a greater man; but you have not so much ease, so much leisure, so much youth, so much health, so much strength, so many real friends, and so much content. pretty sure, too, that a certain lady, whom we have both addressed, prefers in her own breast my little farm to your fine house and your laced liveries: but I respect your happiness so much, that I would resign her to you, if you would but adopt a more amiable and rational way of thinking.
“ I shall never make any farther overtures towards a reconciliation; but shall always be ready to embrace you whenever you feel yourself disposed to sink this awkward distance between us. You will be most likely to find me, on such an occasion, in the poplar-groves behind your house, or on the terrace just out of the village, at the hours of nine and ten in the evening, particularly if it be moonlight. Be assured, you will never hear of me at any public places; for crowds are my abomination. I am sensible that the pride and deceit of these corrupt resorts first produced the melancholy separation that has taken place between us.
“ I knew what was to be my fate, from the moment that old lady Margaret Mildmay whispered in your ear the words ' seducing arts,' and delicate situations. Ever since these ominous phrases, you have kept me at the most mortifying distance; but finding it rather difficult to shake me off at once, you pinched, buckram'd, and pomatum'd me up to such a degree, that I could not hold out any longer. I have often tried to meet you since our total separation ; but as I have not been used to the smell of perfumes, I could never come within your atmosphere, except once indeed, when, in flying from two unmannerly catchpoles, you ran full against me in turning a corner, and did me the favour of jostling me into the kennel.
“ One thing however, sir, I must insist upon, which is, that you will forbear any contemptuous insinuations respecting my friend Dick Shortland's family, since you cannot boast so good a one: and as to myself, sir, you cannot be ignorant that your great-grandfather was a chimney-sweeper, as well as my own; and that, if it were not for that noble invention, for which the world is indebted to a person who was great-uncle to both of us, of liquid shining blacking for shoes, you could never have expected to maintain so much consequence in life, as even your neglected friend and humble servant,
- HUMPHRY QUONDAM.”
I cannot forbear following up this letter with an exhortation to my readers, to reflect, that the humane and social duties press equally on all situations of life; and that, if prosperity deprive us of our unbought friendships, it must ever after remain in hopeless arrears to us, whatever degree of plenty it may shower into our bosoms : it has robbed us of the day-light, which no borrowed glare of lamps and crystals can supply.
No 5. SATURDAY, MARCH 24.
Sit mihi fas audita loqui.
Though I am an old bachelor, and naturally of a cold constitution, yet I have always been fond of mixing among my fair countrywomen wherever I have seen an opportunity. A fine eye affects me like a fine day, which sets my spirits afloat, and gives spring and vigour to my fancy. My vacant composure of countenance makes me less suspected of impertinent curiosity; and as I am never heard ta speak ill of my neighbours, I am supposed to be without malice, or without meaning. I have consequently been treated with a great deal of female anecdote, and female eloquence. Scarce a day passes, but my mother has a little levee of the
young and old of her own sex, who are all enamoured of her complacency, her old-fashioned sense, and historical memory.
There is a sort of treaty of commerce between them, that turns to their mutual account. My mother has a way of reviving the remembrances of her youth, and of retailing her curious stock of obsolete anecdotes and usages, that gathers around her the most rational part of her own sex, who are glad to exchange, for this antiquated merchandise, all the articles and modes of daily intelligence. By this channel I come into possession of a great deal of history respecting the female world, and shall let my readers in for a part of the pillage.
These meetings are not yet formed into a regular society; but I think I can perceive a strong tendency that way; and they seem to be insensibly drawing towards the spirit of our own. They have their readings in imitation of ours; which are so much the more interesting, as the women are more communicative by nature than the men. No information comes from town, in the way of private correspondence, that is not shared among them. Anecdotes of high life, and occurrences that mark the manners of the times, and particularly those of their own sex, are perused with great eagerness; and I owe to these meetings many sage rules and maxims for female conduct, which will run through these my papers.
There is a delicacy of distinction and feeling in the morality of the ladies, that renders it generally
attractive and interesting; and if they knew how much it became their mouths, and what sweetness it bestowed on their smiles, they would redeem a still larger portion of their time from the topics of dissipation, to devote it to a subject in which virtue and vanity may in some sort coalesce.
What put me upon this remark, was an opportunity which was the other day afforded me, of hearing some very excellent observations on the present state of female manners, at one of those little councils in
Methought the dignified sentiments which came from each in her turn, lighted up the countenance, and brought the very soul into the eyes ; insomuch that I never shall be persuaded, that the happiest lover is able to provoke a sweeter look, or a more glowing smile, in the object of his adoration, than the consciousness of virtuous feelings at this moment excited, and that inward honage which we pay to ourselves, when we speak with ability in an amiable cause. There was a complacency in my old mother's forehead, which I would not have exchanged for the courtesy of a princess; and I observed that her shagreen spectacle-case dropped twice out of her hand, while her
were fixed on my great-grandfather's portrait with a look of pious satisfaction.
This becoming effect of virtuous conversation on the female face, and the irresistible force it lends to the expression, was well instanced in the few observations made by Miranda on the subject they were upon. “ It has always appeared to me," she remarked, turning to my mother, who always sits in a sort of oracular state in these assemblies, speaking but seldom, as was the custom of her ancestors, “ that we are to ascribe the principal faults that de