Abbildungen der Seite

differ from one another, as the court and city in their peculiar ways of life and conversation. In short, the inhabitants of St. James's, notwithstanding they live under the fame laws, and speak the same language, are a distinct people from those of Cbeafstde, who are likewise removed from those of the Temple on the one side, and those of Smithfield on the other, by several climates and degrees in their way of thinking and conversing; together.

For this reason, when any public affair is upon theanvil, I love to hear the reflections that arise upoa it in the several districts and parishes of London and Westminster, and to ramble up and down a whole day together, in order to make myself acquainted with the opinions of my ingenious countrymen. By this meansI know the faces of all the principal politicians within, the bills of mortality; and as every coffee-house has some particular statesman belonging to it, who is the mouth of the street where he lives, I always take care to place myself near him, in order to know his judgment on the present posture of affairs. The last progress that I made with this intention, was about three months ago, when we had a current report of the King of France's death. As I foresaw this would produce: a new face of things in Europe, and many curious speculations in our Britijh coffee-houses, I was very deffrous. to learn the thoughts of our most eminent politicians om that occasion.

That I might begin as near the fountain-head as possible, I sirst of all called in at St. James's, where I found the whole outward room in a buz of politics. The speculations were but very indifferent towards thedoor, but grew siner as you advanced to the upper end. of the room, and were so very much improved-, by.a. knot of theorists, who fat in the inner room, within.) the steams of the coffee-pot, that I there- heard, the: whole Spanijh monarchy disposed of, and all the line of Bourhon provided for in. less than a.quarter, of an hour. . .,

I afterwards called in at Giles's, where I saw a board! •f Erencb gentlemen sitting, upon the life and. deathof."

5s theitr their Grand Monarque. Those among them who hai espoused the Whig interest, very positively affirmed, that he departed this life about a week since, and therefore proceeded without any further delay to the release of their friends in the gallies, and to their own re-establishment; but sinding they could not agree among themselves, I proceeded on my intended progress

Upon my arrival at Jenny Man's I saw an ahrte young fellow thatcock'd his hat upon a friend of his who en tred just at the fame time with myself, and accosted him after the following manner. Well, Jack, the old prig is dead at last. Sharp's the word. Now or never, boy. Up to the walls of Paris directly. With several other deep reflexions of the fame nature.

I met with very little variation in the politics between Charing-Cross and Covent-Garden, And upon my going into Will's, I found their discourse was gone off from the death of the French King to that of Monsieur Boileau, Racine, Corneille, and several other poets, whom they regretted on this occasion, as persons who would have obliged the world with very noble elegies on the death of so great a Prince, and so eminent a patron of learning.

At a coffee-house near the Temple, I found a couple of young gentlemen engaged very smartly in a dispute on the succession to the Spanijh monarchy. One of them seemed to have been retained as advocate for the Duke of Jnjou, the other for his Imperial Majesty. They were both for regulating the title to that kingdom by the statute laws of England; but sinding them going out of my depth, I pasted forward to Paul's church-yard,where I listened with great attention to a learned man who gave the company an account of the deplorable state of France during the minority of the deceased King.

I then turned on my right hand into Fijhstreet, where the chief politician of that quarter, upon hearing the Et ws, (after having taken a pipe of tobacco, and ruminated for some time) If, fays he, the King of France is certainly dead, we shall have plenty of mackerel this season : our sishery will not be disturbed by privateers, as it has been for these ten years past. He afterwards considered how the death of this great man would affect our pilchards, and by several other remarks insused a general joy into his whole audience.

I afterwards entered a by-coffee-houfe that stood at the uppet end of a narrow lane, where I met with a Nonjuror, engaged very warmly with a Laceman who was the great support of a neighbouring conventicle. The matter in debate was, whether the late FrenchK'mg Was most like Augustus Cæsar, or Nero. The controversy was carried on with great heat on both sides, and as each of them looked upon me very frequently during the course of their debate, I was under some apprehension that they would appeal to me, and therefore laid down my penny at the bar, and made the best of my way to Cheaffide.

I here gazed upon the signs for some time before I found one to my purpose. The sirst object I met in the coffee-room was a person who expressed a great grief for the death of the French King; but upon his explaining himself, I found his sorrow did not arise from the lose of the monarch, but for his having sold out of the Bank about three days before he heard the news of it. Upon which a Haberdasher, who was the oracle of the coffee-house, and had his circle of admirers about him, called several to witness that he had declared his opinion above a week before, that the French King was certainly dead; to which he added, that considering the late advices we had received from France, it was impossible that it could be otherwise. As he was laying these together, and dictating to his hearers with great authority, there came in a gentleman from Garraway'%, who told us that there were several letters from France just come in, with advice that the King was in good health, and was gone out a hunting the very morning the post came away: Upon which the Haberdasher stole off his hat that hung upon a wooden peg by him, and retired to his shop with great consusion. This intelligence put a stop to my travels, which I had prosecuted with so much satisfaction; not being a little pleased to hear so many different opinions upon so great an event, and to observe how naturally upon such a piece of news every one is 'apt 4

apt to consider it with regard to his particular interest and advantage. L.

N<? 404 Friday, June 13. •

•■ —-Non omnia poffumus omnes. Virg. Eel. 8. v. 63*. With disferent talents form'd, we variously excel.

NATURE does nothing in vain: the Creator of the universe has appointed every thing to a certain use and purpose, and determined it to a settled course and sphere of action, from which if it in the least deviates, it becomes unsit to answer those ends for which it was designed. In like manner it is in the dispositions of society, the civil oeconomy is formed in a chain as well as the natural; and in either cafe the breach but of one link puts the whole in some disorder. It is, I think, pretty plain, that most of the absurdity and ridicule we meet with in the world, is generally owing to the impe-rtinsnt asfectation of excelling in characters men are not sit for, and for which Nature never designed them.

Every man has one or more qualities which may make him useful both to himself and others: Nature never fails of pointing them out, and while the insant continues under her guardianship, she brings him on in his way, and then offers herself for a guide in what remains of the journey; if he proceeds in that course, he can hardly miscarry : Nature makes good her engagements; for as she never promises what she is not able to perform, so she never fails of performing what she promises. But the misfortune is, men despise what they may be masters of, and affect what they are not sit for; they reckon themselves already possessed of what their genius inclined them to, and to bend all their ambition to excel in what is out ef their reach. Thus they destroy the use of their natural talents, in the fame manner as covetous men do their quiet and repose; they can enjoy no satisfaction in what

they. they have, because of the absurd inclination they are possessed with for what they have not.

Cleanthes had good sense, a great memory, and a constitution capable of the closest application. In a word, there was no profession in which Cleanthes might not have made a very good sigure; but this won't satisfy him, he takes up an unaccountable fondness for the character of a sine gentleman ; all his thoughts are bent upon this: instead- of attending a dissection, frequenting the courts of justice, or studying the fathers, Cleanthes reads, plays, dances, dresses, and spends his time in drawingrooms; instead of being a good lawyer, divine, or physician, Cleanthes is a downright coxcomb, and will remain to all that knew him a contemptible exajnple of talents misapplied. It is to this affectation the world owes its whole race of coxcombs: Nature in her whole drama never drew such a part; she has sometimes made a fool, but a coxcomb is always of a man's own making, by applying his talents otherwise than Nature designed, whoever bears a high resentment for being put out of her course, and never fails of taking her revenge on those that do so. Opposing her tendency in the application of a man's parts, has the fame success as declining from her course in the production of vegetables, by the assistance of art and an hot-bed: We may possibly extort an unwilling plant, or an untimely sallad; but how weak, how tasteless and insipid? Just as insipid as the poetry of. Valerio: Valeria had an universal character, was genteel, had learning, thought justly, spoke correctly; 'twas believed there was nothing in which Valeria did not excel; and 'twas so far true, that there was but one; Valerio had no genius for poetry, yet he's resolved to be a poet; he writes verses, and takes great pains to convince the town, that Valeria is not that extraordinary person he was taken for.'

If men would be content to graft upon Nature, and assist her operations, what mighty effects might we expect? Tully would not Hand so much alone in oratory, Virgil in poetry, or C<esar in war. To build upon Nature, is laying the foundation upon a rock; every thing disposes itself into order as it were of course, and the \uhoJe work, is half done as soon as undertaken. Cicero's ^ -t genius

« ZurückWeiter »