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and desires, under that name, to see the lady. She was out of all patience, sends for him up, rates him for an impostor, and after a thousand injuries, flings a slipper at his head. It was impossible to pacify or disabuse her ; he was forced to retire ; and it was not without some time, and the intervention of friends, that they could come to an eclaircissement.” This, as I take it, is exactly the case with Mr Steele, the pretended TATLER from Morphew, and myself, only (I presume) the world will be sooner undeceived than the lady in Menage. The very day my last paper came out, my printer brought me another of the same date, called the Tatler, by Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq., and, which was still more pleasant, with an advertisement at the end, calling me the Female TATLER : it is not enough to rob me of my name, but now they must impose a sex on me, when my years have long since determined me to be of none at all. There is only one thing wanting in the operation, that they would renew my age, and then I will heartily forgive them all the rest. In the meantime, whatever uneasiness I have suffered from the little malice of these men, and my retirement in the country, the pleasures I have received from the same occasion will fairly balance the account. On the one hand I have been highly delighted to see my name and character assumed by the scribblers of the age, in order to recommend themselves to it; and on the other, to observe the good taste of the town, in distinguishing and exploding them through every disguise, and sacrificing their trifles to the supposed manes of Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq. But the greatest merit of my journey into Staffordshire is, that it has opened to me a new fund of unimproved follies and errors, that have hitherto lain out of my view, and by their situation, escaped my censure : for, as I have lived generally in town, the images I had of the country were such only as my senses received very early, and my memory has since preserved with all the advantages they first appeared in.
Hence it was that I thought our parish church the noblest structure in England, and the Esquire's place house, as we called it, a most magnificent palace. I had the same opinion of the alms-house in the churchyard, and of a bridge over the brook that parts our parish from the next. It was the common vogue of our school, that the master was the best scholar in Europe, and the usher the second. Not happening to correct these notions by comparing them with what I saw when I came into the world; upon returning back, I began to resume my former imaginations, and expected all things should appear in the same view as I left them when I was a boy; but, to my utter disappointment, I found them wonderfully shrunk, and lessened almost out of my knowledge. I looked with contempt on the tribes painted on the church walls, which I once so much admired, and on the carved chimneypiece in the esquire's hall. I found my old master to be a poor ignorant pedant; and, in short, the whole scene to be extremely changed for the worse. This I could not help mentioning, because though it be of no consequence in itself, yet it is certain, that most prejudices are contracted and retained by this narrow way of thinking, which, in matters of the greatest moment, are hardly shook off; and which we only think true, because we were made to believe so before we were capable to distinguish between truth and falsehood. But there was one prepossession, which I confess to have parted with, much to my regret : I mean the opinion of that native honesty
and simplicity of manners, which I had always imagined to be inherent in country people. I soon observed it was with them and us, as they say of animals; that every species at land has one to resemble it at sea ; for it was easy to discover the seeds and principles of every vice and folly that one meets with in the more known world, though shooting up in different forms. I took a fancy, out of the several inhabitants round, to furnish the
camp, the bar, and the Exchange, and some certain chocolate and coffeehouses, with exact parallels to what, in many instances, they already produce. There was a drunken quarrelsome smith, whom I have a hundred times fancied at the head of a troop of dragoons. A weaver, within two doors of my kinsman, was perpetually setting neighbours together by the ears. I lamented to see how his talents were misplaced, and imagined what a figure he might make in Westminster-hall. Goodman Crop, of Compton farm, wants nothing but a plum and a gold chain, to qualify him for the government of the city. My kinsman's stable-boy was a gibing companion, that would always have his jest. He would often put cow-itch in the maid's bed, pull stools from under folks, and lay a coal upon their shoes when they were asleep. He was at last turned off for some notable piece of roguery; and, when I came away, was loitering among the alehouses. Bless me, thought I, what a prodigious wit would this have been with us ! I could have matched all the sharpers between St James's and Covent Garden, with a notable fellow in the same neighbourhood, (since hanged for picking pockets at fairs,) could he have had the advantages of their education. So nearly are the corruptions of the country allied to those of the town, with no farther difference than what is made by another turn of thought and method of living !
Among other services I have met with from some critics, the cruellest for an old man is, that they will not let me be at quiet in my bed, but pursue me to my very dreams. I must not dream but when they please, nor upon long continued subjects, however visionary in their own natures, because there is a manifest moral quite through them, which to produce as a dream is improbable and unnatural. The pain I might have had from this objection, is prevented, by considering they have missed another, against which I should have been at a loss to defend myself. They might have asked me whether the dreams I publish can properly be called lucubrations, which is the name I have given to all my papers, whether in volumes or half sheets: so manifest a contradiction in terminis, that I wonder no sophister ever thought of it. But the other is a cavil. I remember, when I was a boy at school, I have often dreamed out the whole passages of a day; that I rode a journey, baited, supped, went to bed, and rose next morning : and I have known young ladies, who could dream a whole texture of adventures in one night, large enough to make a novel. In youth the imagination is strong, not mixed with cares, nor tinged with those passions that most disturb and confound it: such as avarice, ambition, and many others. Now, as old men are said to grow children again, so, in this article of dreaming, I am returned to my childhood. My imagination is at full ease, without care, avarice, or ambition, to clog it; by which, among many others, I have this advantage, of doubling the small remainder of my time, and living four-and-twenty hours in the day. However, the dream I am now going to relate, is as wild as can well be ima.. gined, and adapted to please these refiners upon sleep, without any moral that I can discover.
“ It happened, that my maid left, on the table in my bedchamber one of her story books, (as she calls them,) which I took up, and found full of strange impertinence, fitted to her taste and condition ; of poor servants who came to be ladies, and serving men, of low degree, who married king's daughters. Among other things, I met this sage observation, · That a lion would never hurt a true virgin.' With this medley of nonsense in cy, I went to bed, and dreamed that a friend waked me in the morning, and proposed, for pastime, to spend a few hours in seeing the parish lions, which he had not done since he came to town; and because they shewed but once a-week, he would not miss the opportunity. I said I would humour him : although, to speak the truth, I was not fond of those cruel spectacles; and, if it were not so ancient a custom, founded (as I had heard) upon the wisest maxims, I should be apt to censure the inhumanity of those who introduced it.”