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Unseen he flies; the chair fills up his place
ON MUSHROOM GENTLEMEN.
Licet superbus ambules pecuniâ
Fortuna non mutat genus, Hon.
Among the many obnoxious characters that are to be met with in society, a purse-proud man is certainly not one of the least. While other persons are in some measure excusable in forming an high opinion of themselves on account of literary attainments, or mental superiority, the character I have mentioned is odious and intolerable to all; for his pride is not founded on any merits of his own, but on the favour of Fortune, or the caprice of a testator. Is there any one that has not at some period of his life been disgusted with one of these supercilious pieces of vulgarity? If there is, let him congratulate himself that he has escaped the contact of a creature scarcely less contemptible than the ground upon which he treads.
Far be it from me, while I thus inveigh against this class of persons, to deny to persevering industry the hard-earned enjoyment of its gain; but I blame those who think that a lucky hit in the Lottery, or a successful speculation in the Stocks, entitles them to start forward as gentlemen, and to move in an higher sphere than that for which nature and their education had adapted them.
The first method that is adopted by these aspirants to gentility, is improvement in dress; as if the distinguishing marks of a gentleman were the cut of his coat, or the arrangement of his cravat. I confess that these are accessories which few are willing to neglect; but it argues a weak and narrow mind to rely more on the lustre of a shoe, than on elegance of manners, or politeness of conversation. Yet it is on this that the soi-disant gentleman prides himself; and if he shall have had the good fortune to meet with a scientific tailor, and a dexterous clearstarcher, he will forthwith bę a fashionable man. Thus gold, tailors, and washerwomen, can make or unmake gentlemen, with all the facility in the world.
But the candidate for consideration soon discovers that it is not dress alone that constitutes a gentleman, and consequently begins to imitate his manners. In this attempt his failure is more egregious than before. You may often detect him labouring to introduce an elegant expression, or throw his body into a graceful attitude; hę will endeavour to interlard his conversation with French,
of which he knows just as much as is sufficient to enable him to murder it; if he happens to dance, he will pirouette and caper with considerably more energy than grace, and will affect to like music, although, with his utmost discrimination, he can scarcely distinguish “ Money-Musk” from “God save the King.”
But let us view the converse of this character, I mean the good man deserted by Fortune. How modestly he shrinks from the society of those who were formerly his equals, but now his superiors, at least in point of fortune; how unobtrusive are his manners, as if he knew, that in the estimation of the multitude, he is degraded ; but how contented is his look, how unbroken his mien, which shows that in his mind he despises the vicissitudes of Fortune! From his homely garb you would mistake him at a distance for a menial, but the delusion vanishes as you approach, for then appears that indescribable charm, that perfect elegance of demeanour, which, under any disguise, will still characterize the gentleman. He is affable to his inferiors, for he feels how uncertain are the distinctions of rank; he can sympathize with the mourner, for he himself has tasted of affliction
he can relieve the distressed, for he is conscious that the tenure of riches is vain and unsubstantial.
Such is the man against whom the malice of Fortune falls powerless and dead, the man whom wealth and possessions could never induce to think more highly of himself, than if he were the humble inmate of a cottage; for he feels that though the stocks may rise and fall; though ships may be wrecked, and lotteries be won, yet man's intrinsic value remains still the same ; and that all
the gifts of fortune, and all the appendages of state, cannot add one jot of real importance to the degraded and worthless characters who are too often found as their
“ Nec verbum verbo curabis reddere."
Dear Sir; Wishing, to the best of my power, to contribute to your Publication, I inclose a short Translation for your notice. You cannot be so unreasonable as to expect it should bear much resemblance to the original.
“ Fear is mingled with my hope" Like Horace,
« Si me Lyricis vatibus inseres
way-worn sailor to his home;