H́nh ảnh trang

clufion of those more polished manners I had cultivated abroad. Next winter I fell into the fociety of my fox hunting friends, who followed me up from the country to London, and the bottle, which had formerly been disagreeable to me in excefs, became neceffary as a medium of friendship in the clubs I now frequented.

I got into habits that extinguished all rational curiofity and amufement; and my looking glafs began to hint to me, that I was about to get a red nofe to enli ven a face confiderably bloached by diffipation, and wrinkled by anxiety at the gaming table.

Though now only five and twenty, I began to find myself lefs admired than formerly, and to fink in my ewn estimation. One evening, after having loft five hundred at Brookes's, I came home fuddenly in great uneafinefs, and being unable to fleep, I fent my fervant to a circulating library for a book, by way of opiate, which I ordered him to read to me, while I was in bed, fuppofing that his whining uniform cadence might procure me that choiceft blefling of the unfortunate, which is so often fought for in vain. The fellow having no instruction to call for any particular book, brought the firft that was offered by the fhop boy, and being defired to begin and read, as he should accidentally open the volume, he began his work as follows:

"If you ever read a letter, which is fent with the more pleasure for the reality of the complaints, this may have reason to hope for a favourable acceptance; and if time be the moft irretrievable lofs, the regrets which follow will be thought, I hope, the most juftifiable. The regaining of my liberty from a long state of indolence and inactivity, and the defire of refifting the farther encroachments of idlenefs, make me apply to you; and the uneafiness with which I recollect the past years, and the apprehenfions with which I expect the future, foon determined me to it.

[ocr errors]

"Idleness is so general a distemper, that I cannot but imagine a fpeculation on this fubject will be of univerfal use.

"There is hardly any one perfon without fome allay of it; and thousands befide myself fpend more time in an idle uncertainty, which to begin first, of two afa rs, than would have been fufficient to have ended them both. The occafion of this feems to be the want of fome neceffary employment, to put the fpirits in motion, and awaken them out of their lethargy.

"If I had lefs leifure, I fhould have more; for I fhould then find my time diftinguished into portions, fome for bufinefs, and others for the indulging of pleasures: But now, one face of indolence overfpreads the whole, and I have no landmark to direct myself by. Were one's time a little ftraitened by bufinefs, like water inclosed in its banks, it would have fome determined course; but unless it be put into fome channel, it has no current, but becomes a deluge without either ufe or motion.'

Stop, you rascal, faid I, what the devil are you about? I did not defire you to speak to me; I ordered you to read that book. An' please your honour, faid he, and fo I am reading the book, without putting in a word of my own. God help me, if I were ever fo willing, I could not speak fuch outlandish things for the world. Go on Sirrah, faid I.

"When Scanderbeg prince of Epyrus was dead, the Turks, who had but too often felt the force of his arm in the battles he had won from them, imagined, that by wearing a piece of his bones near their heart, they should be animated with a vigour and force like to that which inspired him when living. As I am like to be of little ufe while I live, I am resolved to do what good I can after my decease; and have accordingly ordered my bones to be disposed of in this manner, for the good of my countrymen who are troubled with too great a degree of fire. All fox-hunters, upon wear

[ocr errors]

ing me"-Stop you, Sirrah, faid I, this will never do; go to fome other part of this damn'd book; I never heard fuch wretched stuff in my life.

The boy, turning over a couple of pages, began again.

"Auguftus, a few moments before his death, afked his friends who stood about him, if they thought he had acted his part well."

Take that other

Stop, my lad, that wont do either. volume, and read where you please.

"There are few who know how to be idle and innocent, or have a relish of any pleasures that are not "criminal; every diverfion they take is at the expence "of fome one virtue or other, and their very firit


ftep out of bufinefs, is into vice or folly. A man "should endeavour therefore, to make the sphere of "his innocent pleasures as wide as poflible, that he


may retire into them with falety, and find in them "fuch a fatisfaction as a wife man would not blush to "take."

[ocr errors]

Irritated and confounded by thefe reflections, fo applicable to my own unhappy fituation, I fprung out of bed, fnatched the book out of my fervant's hand, and in the scuffle, overthrew the table at which he fat, with the bottle and glaffes that were upon it; after which, overwhelmed with fhame and disguit, I return-. ed to a fleepless pillow, and spent the long night in agony of thought.

I re-entered, as it were, into my own mind, and looked back upon the last three years of my life, as on a loathfome dream: I refolved inftantly to adopt a plan of rational existence; and having called in the whole of my bills, I wrote a long letter to my father, in explanation of my future refolutions, borrowed a fum of money fufficient to pay every thing I owed in London, and fet out for the country, where, with my father's confent, I applied myself to the fuperintendence of his patrimonial affairs, and, in the intervals of leifure, applied myself to study.

Soon after, my father died, and I became poffeffed of an estate of four thousand a year, without any incumbrance.

As I had not been bred to any profeffion, I applied myfelf, with unremitted earneftnefs, to the ftudy of agriculture, and all the fciences and arts immediately connected with that most useful and refpectable of all , occupations.

In the courfe of two years, I became fo much master of its principles, practice, and duties, that I found myfelf- able to originate and direct in all my operations, as the pater familias of Colummella, that I was independent of my land fteward, my bailiffs, and my old experienced fervants.

I planted a field of two hundred acres with all kinds of forest trees, fuited to the foil and fituation; inclofed a great part of my eftate, and planted the fences around with hedge-bws of oak, afh and elm. I laid out, and planted a large orchard, moft of the trees having been ingrafted with my own hands, from the best bearers in the country.

I gave a good beginning to a manufacturing village, encouraged my farmers to good modes of husbandry, in which I fet them an example, often holding my plough in their prefence, and established a club among them for comparing their refpective improvements together, and keeping a diary of their proceedings.

It is now ten years fince I have been thus employed, going only to London for a few months, during the fitting of parliament, to attend my duty, the intervals from which are chiefly spent in affociating with thofe who are intent on the improvement of the country, or in attending the meetings of the Royal Society, and the fociety for the encouragement of arts and manufactures; and though idle, as having no trade or employment in the common acceptation of the term, I am one of the bufieft, and confequently one of the happiest men in the world.

May I not, Mr. Editor, with great truth fubfc.ibe myself


On the Hiftory of Authors by Profeffion.

No. IV.

I HAVE remarked, in the conclufion of the last number, that there is a fact in the hiftory of the Greek philofophers, which evinces, that they have undergone the fame changes in their condition, as the modern profeffors of literature. Their change, I fix at the period when they avowedly and regularly began to receive money for their public lectures; and I affert, that anterior to that period, they must have depended on the patronage of private individuals; and that pofterior to it, they, like modern authors, depended on the price paid by the public for their productions. To prove the firft of thefe pofitions, I fhall neither have recourfe to Laertius, to Stanley, or to Brucker. I thall neither urge the connection of Anaxagoras with Pericles, that of Socrates with Alcibiades, that of Ariftotle with Philip, nor the voyages of Plato and Ariflippus to the Court of Di onyfius. I fhall felect a more fimple mode of argument. Thefe philofophers were not men of hereditary fortanes; they did not cultivate any enriching profe lions; they profeffed to gain nothing by that literature to which they dedicated their lives. How then were they fupported, all in the conveniences, fome in the indulgencies and luxuries of life? Undoubtedly by the munificence of patrons. The queftion admits no other anIwer;-the fact admits no other explanation.

Till the moment, then, that we find them giving, public lectures for money, we must conclude the laterati of Greece to have fubfifted in a state of patronage,

« TrướcTiếp tục »