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scorn of the old one; and that, to evince an elevation of mind proportioned to their rise of fortune, they have only to discard the associates and witnesses of their humble beginnings.-A gentleman who finds himself in this description of deserted friends, has made the following complaint to me, by letter, permitting me to make my own use of it.
TO THE REV. SIMON OLIVE-BRANCH.
You remember, no doubt, your old fellow collegian Tom Varnish, whose principal recommendation was his apparent good-nature, and his companionable qualities. You will be surprised to hear, that, by a fortunate connection, he is become dean of
The first time I saw him after his preferment, I stretched out my hand to him, to wish him joy, in quality of an old friend and associate, but could only grasp the tip of his longest finger: he made me, however, a very polite bow, and told me his dinner was always on table at half after five, if I ever came his way. He left me in such utter surprise, that I was fixed on the spot for some moments. It occurred to me, however, upon a little reflection, that this must have been a mere joke, which would serve us to laugh over at some snug meeting at the deanery. His subsequent conduct has undeceived me; and I plainly see that I am never to be acknowledged on the ancient footing. I own I should feel a very violent indignation towards this poltron, and should be provoked to some signal revenge, if such behaviour did not in a great measure carry its punishment with it; but I observe, that since his elevation there are fewer smiles on his countenance, and there seems to be a constraint in his looks and demeanour, which
betrays an inward perplexity, the constant companion of pride. There is always, methinks, a sort of treason in these abuses of friendship, that leaves a conscious stain upon the mind; a secret sense of unworthiness, that sinks us amidst our triumphs, and falsifies our greatness.
I happened to meet him the other day in a large company, where it was my fortune to be seated next to him. I thought this a favourable opportunity for pressing some anecdotes home to his recollection, that might stir up some ancient regards, if any were left at the bottom of his mind. I talked to him of the old tree, under whose shade we had passed so many hours, in reading a story of Chaucer, a play of Shakspeare, or the humours of the knight of La Mancha. I reminded him of our names cut out together on the examining-chair in the schools. I told him, that his likeness was still hanging over my mantle-piece, which brought to my mind a thousand soothing remembrances of my youth; and that I often pleased myself with contemplating the unconsciousness that appeared in my friend's countenance, of any views towards that elevation which he has since experienced. I assured him, that our little laundress, though not in the pride of her looks, was still fresh, florid, and good-natured; and often talked of Tom Varnish's genteel leg, and sociable temper.
All this, however, appeared to give him rather offence than pleasure. At the mention indeed of Miss Jenny, his eyes seemed to sparkle a little, and his fingers involuntarily moved towards his band, which had formerly passed through the renovating hands of the pretty laundress. I returned home, chagrined at the littleness of human pride, and the sorry make of our minds, which can be content thus
to barter the real enjoyments of life for its pageantry and impositions. Seeing a loose bit of paper and a pen on my table, the thought occurred to me of putting down certain obligations conferred upon our worthy dean in the days of our intimacy, which serve to point out the meanness from which he has emerged. As I think myself justified in keeping no measures with such a character, I authorize you to insert the following list in one of your periodical essays, if you think it worth your notice.
Dec. 25, Being Christmas-day, lent to Tom Var nish a clean shirt and a sermon on the occasion.
Jan. 3. 31.
A crown for a Christmas-box to Jenny. Corrected a declamation for him, by making a new one.
Lent him a pair of worsted gloves during the hard frost.
Paid Mr. Gangrene for the setting of his
Paid two-thirds of the expence of
Saved him from drowning, in a scheme
Lent him a pair of boots, a whip, and a shilling for the turnpikes, besides paying for his horse, to enable him to ride over to his uncle the cowdoctor, who lay ill of a dropsy.
Puffed him off to Sir H. O'N., by whose interest he went with the lord-lieutenant to Ireland.
July 15. Made up a quarrel about potatoes, which
took place at the moment of his landing.
Saved him from a challenge from the
A multitude of little services have escaped my recollection; but these will be sufficient to show, that the dean of has clean forgotten Tom Varnish, and Tom Varnish's friends. Be so good as to make a memorandum of this letter; and if I perceive any future changes in this self-tormentor, I will not fail to give you some further accounts of him. Yours ever,
I thought there was so much honesty and good sense in this letter, that I determined to make a present of it to my readers: and though the catalogue which my friend Trueman has sent me may seem to bear rather too hard upon the reverend dean, yet a pride of this sort does so eminently misbecome a teacher of Christianity, and betrays such a corruption of heart, that I cannot think the punishment improper either in kind or degree.
For my part, with my sedate habits, and sober complexion, these frightful transformations of my countrymen surprise me strangely. For as, in my own family, whole generations have exactly agreed, and the father has regularly reproduced himself in the son, I am the more astonished to see a man so much at variance with himself. There must certainly have been some witchcraft in Tom Varnish's history; which puts me very much in mind of the poet's account of the metamorphosis of Atlas into a mountain his beard and hair shot up into a huge forest; his shoulders and hands became ridges; his head supplied the place of a pinnacle; his bones were converted into rocks; then his whole person
swelled out to a monstrous size, on which all the stars of heaven reposed.
Quantus erat mons factus Atlas: jam barba comæque
OV. MET. iv. 656.
Cicarella, in his life of Pope Sixtus Quintus, tells us, that that pontiff used frequently to please himself with jesting upon the meanness of his origin. He would say that he was domo natus perillustri; the cottage wherein he was born being so out of repair, that the sun shone through every part of it. Cicero, with more gravity, observes, Satius est meis gestis florere quam majorem auctoritatibus inniti, et ita vivere ut sim posteris meis nobilitatis initium et virtutis exemplum. "It is more honourable for me to be dignified by my own actions, than to lean upon the authority of my ancestors; and so to live that I may be a fountain of nobility and an example of virtue to my descendants."
Our worthy dean does not appear at present to feel all the force of these laudable sentiments; but I depend upon his coming over to our party, at some period of his life. When old-age and sickness press upon him, he will look around him, perhaps in vain, for his old friend Anthony Trueman, to refresh his mind with the pleasing recollections of his youth, and to talk with him about young Jenny and the old tree.
Yesterday, as I was pursuing my reflections on this subject, it occurred to me, that some good advice to such characters as I have been describing, might be conveyed in the notion of a letter from a