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As knowledge and virtue can never be sufficiently diffused, my ware-house will be calculated for general use, and stored with large assortments of all kinds of virtues and dresses, that I may suit persons of whatever denomination. Physicians may be furnished from my shop with gravity and learning in the tyes of a periwig; sergeants at law my be fitted with a com petent knowledge of reports under a coif; and young counsellors may be endued with a sufficient fund of eloquence for the circuits, in a smart tye between a bob and a flow, contrived to cover a toupée. I shall sell religion to country parsons in pudding sleeves, and to young town curates just come from the university, in doctors scarfs and full grizzles: I shall have some pious ejaculations, whinings and groans,ready cut out in leathern aprons and blue frocks, for the preaching fraternity of carpenters, brick-layers, tallow-chandlers, and butchers, at the Tabernacle and Foundery in Moorfields. For our military gentlemen designed to go abroad, I shall have several parcels of true British courage, woven in a variety of cockades and sword-knots; and for our fine gentlemen, who stay at home, I have provided a proper quantity of French Bagatelle, in cut velvet, lace and embroidery, neat as imported.
As the ladies, I suppose, will all of them, to a woman, be desirous of purchasing beauty with every branch of the female apparel, I am afraid I shall not be able to answer their demands; but I shall have several dresses which will make up for the want of it. I shall have neatness done up in a great variety of plain linen; decency and discretion in several patterns for mobs, hoods, and night-gowns; together with modesty disposed into tuckers, kerchiefs for the neck, stays that almost meet the chin, and petticoats that touch the ground. I shall also have a small portion of chastity knit into garters, and twisted into laces
for the stays, very proper to be worn at masquerades and assemblies.
I had almost forgot to mention that authors, who are often in equal want of sense and cloaths, shall be fitted out by me with both at once on very reasonable rates. As for yourself, Mr. Town, I shall beg leave to present you with an entire suit of superfine wit and humour, warranted to wear well, appear creditable, and in which no author would be ashamed to be
I am, Sir,
Your humble servant,
No. LXXVIII. THURSDAY, JULY 24.
Etatis cujusque notandi sunt tibi mores.
What foibles wait on life through every stage!
To Mr. Town.
NOTHING is more necessary, in order to wear off any particularities in our behaviour, or to root out any perverseness in our opinions, than mixing with persons of ages and occupations different from our own. Whosoever confines himself entirely to the society of those who are engaged in the same pursuits, and whose thoughts naturally take the same turn with his own, acquires a certain stiffness and pedantry of behaviour, which is sure to make him disagreeable, except in one particular set of company. Instead of
cramping the mind by keeping it within so narrow a circle, we should endeavour to enlarge it by every worthy notion and accomplishment; and temper each qualification with its opposite; as the four elements are compounded in our natural frame.
The necessity of this free conversation, to open and improve the mind, is evident from the consequences, which always follow a neglect of it. The employment each man is engaged in, wholly engrosses his attention, and tinges the mind with a peculiar dye, which shews itself in all the operations of it, unless prevented by natural good sense or a liberal education. The physician, the lawyer, and the tradesman will appear in company, though none of those occupations are the subject of discourse: and the clergyman will grow morose and severe, who seldom or never converses with the laity. If no particular profession claims this influence over us, some darling passion or amusement gives a colour to our thoughts and actions, and makes us odious or at least ridiculous. Fine ladies for instance, by despising the con versation of sensible men, can talk about nothing but routs, balls, assemblies, birth-day suits, and intrigues; and fine gentlemen, for the same reason, of almost nothing at all. In like manner the furious partizan, who has not been weaned from a mad attachment to particular principles, is weak enough to imagine every man of a different way of thinking a fool and a scoundrel; and the sectary or zealot devotes to eternal damnation all those who will not go to heaven in the same road with himself, under the guidance of Whitfield, Wesley, or Zinzendorff. To the same cause we owe the rough country squire, whose ideas are wholly bent on guns, dogs, horses, and game; and who has every thing about him of a piece with his diversions. His hall must be adorned with stags heads, instead of busts and statues; and in the room of family pic
tures, you will see prints of the most famous stallions and race-horses; all his doors open and shut with foxes feet; and even the buttons of his cloaths are impressed with the figures of dogs, foxes, stags, and horses. To this absurd practice of cultivating only one set of ideas, and shutting ourselves out from any intercourse with the rest of the world, is owing that narrowness of mind, which has infected the conversation of the polite world with insipidity, made roughness and brutality the characteristics of a mere country gentleman, and produced the most fatal consequences in politics and religion.
But if this commerce with the generality of mankind is so necessary to remove any impressions which we may be liable to receive from any particular employment or darling amusement, what precautions ought to be used, in order to remedy the inconveniencies naturally incident to the different ages of life! It is not certain, that a person will be engaged in any profession, or given up to any peculiar kind of pleasure; but the mind of every man is subject to the inclinations arising from the several stages of his existence, as well as his body to chronical distempers. This indeed, Mr. Town, is the principal cause of my writing to you for it has often given me great concern to see the present division between the young and the old; to observe elderly men forming themselves into clubs and societies, that they may be more securely separated from youth; and to see young men running into dissipation and debauchery, rather than associate with age. If each party would labour to conform to the other, from such a coalition many advantages would accrue to both. Our youth would be instructed by the experience of age, and lose much of that levity, which they retain too long: while at the same time the wrinkled brow of the aged would be smoothed by the sprightly cheerfulness of youth; by
which they might supply the want of spirits, forget the loss of old friends, and bear with ease all their worldly misfortunes. It is remarkable, that those young men are the most worthy and sensible, who have kept up any intercourse with the old; and that those old men are of the most cheerful and amiable disposition who have not been ashamed to converse with the young.
I will not pretend to decide which party is most blameable in neglecting this necessary commerce with each other; which, if properly managed, would be at once so beneficial and delightful: but it undoubtedly arises from a certain selfishness and obstinacy in both, which will not suffer them to make a mutual allowance for the natural difference of their dispositions. Their inclinations are, indeed, as different as their years; yet each expects the other to comply, though neither will make any advances. How rarely do we see the least degree of society preserved between a father and a son! a shocking reflec tion, when we consider that nature has endeavoured to unite them by parental affection on one side, and filial gratitude on the other. Yet a father and son as seldom live together with any tolerable harmony, as an husband and wife; and chiefly for the same reason: for though they are both joined under the same yoke, yet they are each tugging different ways. A father might as well expect his son to be as gouty and infirm as himself, as to have the disposition which he has contracted from age; and a son might as rea sonably desire the vigour and vivacity of five and twenty, as his own love of gaiety and diversions, in his father. It is therefore evident, that a mutual endeavour to conform to each other is absolutely requisite to keep together the cement of natural affection, which an untractable stubbornness, so frequently dissolves; or at least if it does not disturb the affection, it constantly destroys the society between father and son.