« PreviousContinue »
its humble mite to this glorious undertaking, dictates the present epistle; and hopes, that the sincerity of its intention will plead for the favour and patronage of the Microcosmopolitan.
Sages versed in the most abstruse sciences of philosophy, those who through all ages have made the most splendid appearance in the paths of literature, and the estimation of the learned world, have in many instances generously given up the labours of their life, to the task of implanting the admonitions of morality in the breast of their contemporaries.
• In the vegetable and animal creation, early culture applied to the tender plant, or management to the beast, as soon as either is capable of receiving good or bad impressions, will remain," until the one is hewn down and cast into the fire," and the other perishes by the natural effects of age. The gardener's hand can cause the delicate honeysuckle to entwine the majestic oak; the inhabitant of Ispahan tames the gigantic elephant; the savage African traverses his native deserts on the back of the stately dromedary; and the farthest citizen of Kamschatka passes over tracts of ice and snow seemingly impervious, by the wonderful sagacity which he has instilled into dogs. That the human mind is much more wonderfully formed for a similar cultivation, need not be observed. • Youth is the season,
when every example, every lesson which virtue or vice can inculcate are the most certain to stamp lasting impressions on the mind. Passions imbibed at an early period, seldom fail to give a decisive bias to our future life; and conquering almost every opposition, to govern the man with an arbitrary sway. Convinced of this, how sincerely grateful should we be for every endeavour which tends to the important point of our future felicity; how cautiously should we guard every trifling action against the baleful influence of vice, or the insidious blandishments of temptation.
· Few breasts are so pure, or possess such an absolute self-dominion, but that some one passion will by degrees, and by frequent indulgence, gain an ascendency over the others; and work them into a state of such abject slavery, as to render them entirely subservient to its own authority. Would we but impartially examine our own minds, and determine to discover it in its rise, very little restraint might perhaps utterly eradicate it in its infancy; or reduce it at least to such subjection, as to prevent it from becoming our future bane.
• But descending from subjects more important, give me leave to remark, with how much greater pleasure to themselves, with how much less censure from the world at large, or particularly from their more immediate acquaintance, would the lives of individuals be passed, if each (although I fancy it is a thing utterly impracticable entirely to attain) would endeavour, as far as is in his power, to extirpate from his conversation, and the general tenor of his more private actions, certain ridiculous peculiarities which eminently mark his character.
• If, for instance, I interrogate a friend of mine whether Miss attended such a ball, and how she danced? he instantly replies, “ Indeed, Sir, she did attend ; and danced, oh! she danced like the very devil !” How, I again ask, was she dressed ? Oh! she was dressed with peculiar elegance, outshone the other. beauties in the room, and looked as enchanting as the devil.” Whether his infernal majesty really possesses all the attributes my friend is pleased to ascribe to him or not, is not much to our purpose ; however, to the generality of his auditors, I should rather suppose, that such an addition to most of the sentences he uttered, would appear in a disadvantageous, rather than an ornamental light.
• The same person (as if he was desirous early to accustom his body to the use of a coffin) would, I believe rather forego his night's rest, than sleep in a bed two inches broader than is absolutely necessary. Many other peculiarities time will not permit me to notice. I frequently threaten him with the certainty of his expiring an old bachelor; but I am convinced that a hint from Mr. Griffin, will be far more efficacious towards the recovery of my friend, than the terrors of perpetual celibacy. I am, Sir, &c.
MUSIDORUS: Nov. 18, 1786.
• DEAR GREG, • You were in a plaguy hurry to fill up the vacant seat in the lounging club. I should have disputed the pretensions of Narcissus myself, and I am confident there is not a single member of our non-chalance society, but better deserved the distinction ; -hear, and judge for yourself.—You must know we are a firm Con, who regularly spend our Saturdays in recapitulating the business of the week, and the lucky rogue who proves himself to have done the least good, who has taken the most effectual pains to evade every purpose of his education, to affect indisposition with the greatest art, and loll away his hours with the most perfect indolence, is chosen President for the ensuing week; with many privileges that I may possibly acquaint you with hereafter.—The immediate peals of applause that follow the promotion, would do your heart good, and has made me take more pains to arrive at the honour, than the closest attention to my education would have cost me. I proved to the satisfaction of the whole society last Saturday, that all the traces of my abilities, discoverable for the last week, were those be. fore them on the chimney-piece, from a hot poker. What shouts of applause! and I was actually hustled one foot into the chair, when an unlucky member discovered, that I had taken too much pains in burning the initial letters of my name, and that they remained an indelible proof against me. He
into the chair with the unanimous voice of the whole club, forit was proved in his favour, thatin the whole course of the week he had done nothing, except indeed throwing a cravat into the fire, because it had been ill washed, and was not brought the monient he ordered it. There was exertion in this, added to some abuse he had given the servant, and I voted to dispossess him ; but it appeared, that his tutor, with a mildness peculiar to himself, had taken great pains that very morning to convince him of his errors; that his idleness and extravagance deeply distressed an indulgent father; was ruin to the hopes of his whole family; and a melancholy waste of abilities that he might some time lament, but never have the
power to retrieve. To this, and much more, dictated by virtue and friendship, he turned an ear of non-chalance, vowed it was an excessive bore, flew to the club, and sent for a new pair of buckles three inches larger than the last. I roared my consent to the promotion of such a jolly dog, proof against the mildest dictates of reason; the strongest ties of gratitude and affecțion ; and the necessity of that economy, which his situation in life particularly demanded from him. I now stand a candidate for the next week, and in the name of all the powers of indolence, my dear Greg, don't bring lounging into contempt, till I have shared the honours of the society.
You have absolutely destroyed us by your raillery against swearing. It was a happy relief for dulness, and supplied the want of information upon every subject. I swore roundly'on the cleverness of your first number, and had actually practised a new and choice collection of execrations to come out with the second; and when our PRESIDENT read it (a labour by the by, that but for his unrivalled claims would have cost him his place), I sat lounging with one leg carelessly thrown over my knee, patting the other, with my new volley, as I may say, ready at my fingers ends; but when he had finished, I could not express a single syllable, and have not swore an oath since, without a sheepish kind of consciousness, that destroys as it were the plumpness of utterance; and I verily believe, I shall be reduced to the wretched alternative of feigning myself totally dumb, or be at the pains of acquiring some knowledge, to qualify myself for conversation.
• I was recovering the other day, and beginning to rap out an execration with a tolerable air of indifference, when a tall fellow tapped me on the shoulder, halloo'd Microcosm in my ear, and making me spring at least three feet from the ground, whirled my abortive oath to some attendant spirit, who never let it drop in this world, and I hope will never record it in the next. But, for pity's sake, my dear Greg, don't be too virtuous; leave us some vices to revel in; for at the unmerciful rate you go on, lopping off a vice or a folly every week, we shall be the dullest seminary in Christendom; we shall have nothing to do but to study; and I am sadly afraid it will become fashionable to be attentive, diligent, and healthy; --for why attempt, by feigned sickness, to escape from scholastic trammels, if it is no longer knowing to swear, lounge, or in any shape to play the fool?
Yours, OCTAVIUS." Nov. 20, 1786.
"To the MICROCOSMOPOLITAN. DEAR GRIF, Eton, Monday, Nov. 27, 1786. Being myself a sincere admirer of your plan, and being willing, as far as lay in my power, to contribute to its success, I have made it my