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ten years, to retire to Stratford or Hackney, and leave him established in the business.
For four years he was diligent and sedate, entered the shop before it was opened, and when it was shut always examined the pins of the window. In any intermission of business it was his constant practice to peruse the ledger. I had always great hopes of him, when I observed how sorrowfully he would shake his head over a bad debt, and how eagerly he would listen to me when I told him that he might at one time or other become an alderman.
We lived together with mutual confidence, till unluckily a visit was paid him by two of his schoolfellows who were placed, I suppose, in the army, because they were fit for nothing better: they came glittering in their military dress, accosted their old acquaintance, and invited him to a tavern, where, as I have been since informed, they ridiculed the meanness of commerce, and wondered how a youth of spirit could spend the prime of his life behind a
I did not suspect any mischief. I knew my son was never without money in his pocket, and was better able to pay his reckoning than his companions; and expected to see him return triumphing in his own advantages, and congratulating himself that he was not one of those who expose their heads to a musquet bullet for three shillings a day.
He returned sullen and thoughtful; I supposed him sorry for the hard fortune of his friends; and tried to comfort him by saying that the war would soon be at an end, and that, if they had any honest occupation, half pay would be a pretty help. He looked at me with indignation; and snatching up his candle, told me, as he went up stairs, that he hoped to see a battle yet.
Why he should hope to see a battle I could not
conceive, but let him go quietly to sleep away his folly. Next day he made two mistakes in the first bill, disobliged a customer by surly answers, and dated all his entries in the journal in a wrong month. At night he met his military companions again, came home late, and quarrelled with the maid.
From this fatal interview he has gradually lost all his laudable passions and desires. He soon grew useless in the shop, where, indeed, I did not willingly trust him any longer; for he often mistook the price of goods to his own loss, and once gave a promissory note instead of a receipt.
I did not know to what degree he was corrupted, till an honest taylor gave me notice that he had bespoke a laced suit, which was to be left for him at a house kept by the sister of one of my journeymen. I went to this clandestine lodging, and found, to my amazement, all the ornaments of a fine gentleman, which he has taken upon credit, or purchased with money subducted from the shop.
This detection has made him desperate. He now openly declares his resolution to be a gentleman; says that his soul is too great for a counting-house; ridicules the conversation of city taverns; talks of new plays, and boxes and ladies; gives duchesses for his toasts; carries silver, for readiness in his waistcoat-pocket; and comes home at night in a chair, with such thunders at the door as have more than once brought the watchmen from their stands.
Little expences will not hurt us; and I could forgive a few juvenile frolics, if he would be careful of the main; but his favourite topic is contempt of money, which, he says, is of no use but to be spent. Riches, without honour, he holds empty
things; and once told me to my face, that wealthy plodders were only purveyors to men of spirit.
He is always impatient in the company of his old friends, and seldom speaks till he is warmed with wine; he then entertains us with accounts that we do not desire to hear, of intrigues among lords and ladies, and quarrels between officers of the guards; shows a miniature on his snuff-box, and wonders that any man can look upon the new dancer without rapture.
All this is very provoking; and yet all this might be borne, if the boy could support his pretensions. But, whatever he may think, he is yet far from the accomplishments which he has endeavoured to purchase at so dear a rate. I have watched him in public places. He sneaks in like a man that knows he is where he should not be; he is proud to catch the slightest salutation, and often claims it when it is not intended. Other men
receive dignity from dress, but my booby looks always more meanly for his finery. Dear Mr. Idler, tell him what must at last become of a fop, whom pride will not suffer to be a trader, and whom long habits in a shop forbid to be a gentleman.
I am, SIR, &c.
N° 96. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1760.
HACHO, a king of Lapland, was in his youth the most renowned of the Northern warriors. His martial achievements remain engraved on a pillar of flint in the rocks of Hanga, and are to this day solemnly carolled to the harp by the Laplanders, at the fires with which they celebrate their nightly festivities. Such was his intrepid spirit, that he ventured to pass the lake Vether to the isle of Wizards, where he descended alone into the dreary vault in which a magician had been kept bound for six ages, and read the Gothic characters inscribed on his brazen mace. His eye was so piercing, that, as antient chronicles report, he could blunt the weapons of his enemies only by looking at them. At twelve years of age he carried an iron vessel of a prodigious weight, for the length of five furlongs, in the presence of all the chiefs of his father's castle.
Nor was he less celebrated for his prudence and wisdom. Two of his proverbs are yet remembered and repeated among Laplanders. To express the vigilance of the Supreme Being, he was wont to say, Odin's belt is always buckled. To show that the most prosperous condition of life is often hazardous, his lesson was, When you slide on the smoothest ice, beware of pits beneath. He consoled his countrymen, when they were once preparing to leave the frozen desarts of Lapland, and resolved to seek some warmer climate, by telling
them, that the Eastern nations, notwithstanding their boasted fertility, passed every night amidst the horrors of anxious apprehension, and were inexpressibly affrighted, and almost stunned, every morning, with the noise of the sun while he was rising.
His temperance and severity of manners were his chief praise. In his early years he never tasted wine; nor would he drink out of a painted cup. He constantly slept in his armour, with his spear in his hand; nor would he use a battle-ax whose handle was inlaid with brass. He did not, however, persevere in this contempt of luxury; nor did he close his days with honour.
One evening, after hunting the Gulos, or wilddog, being bewildered in a solitary forest, and having passed the fatigues of the day without any interval of refreshment, he discovered a large store of honey in the hollow of a pine. This was a dainty which he had never tasted before; and being át once faint and hungry, he fed greedily upon it. From this unusual and delicious repast he received so much satisfaction, that, at his return home, he commanded honey to be served up at his table every day. His palate, by degrees, became refined and vitiated; he began to lose his native relish for simple fare, and contracted a habit of indulging himself in delicacies; he ordered the delightful gardens of his castle to be thrown open, in which the most luscious fruits had been suffered to ripen and decay, unobserved and untouched, for many revolving autumns, and gratified his appetite with luxurious deserts. At length he found it expedient to introduce wine, as an agreeable improvement, or a necessary ingredient, to his new way of living; and having once tasted it, he was tempted, by little and little, to give a loose to the excesses of in