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me, that her affections were otherwise engaged, and to intreat that I would, therefore, discontinue my addresses. My surprise and concern at this declaration, were such as left me no power to reply; and I saw Sir George turn from me and go into the house, without making any attempt to stop him, or to obtain a further explanation. Afterwards, indeed, I frequently expostulated, intreated, and complained ; but, perceiving that all was ineffectual, I took my leave, and determined that I would still solicit by letter; for the lady had taken such possession of my heart, that I would joyfully have married her, though I had been sure that her father would immediately have left all his fortune to a stranger.
I meditated on my epistolary project all the way to London, and before I had been three days in town I wrote a long letter to Sir George, in which I conjured him, in the strongest terms, to account for the change in his behaviour; and insisted, that, on this occasion, to conceal the truth, was in the highest degree dishonourable to himself and injurious to me.
To this letter, after about ten days, I received the following answer :
• Sir, • It is with great reluctance that I reveal the motives of my conduct, because they are much to your disadvantage. The inclosed is a letter which I received from a worthy gentleman in this county, and contains a full answer to your inquiries, which I had rather you should receive in any hand than in mine.
• I a
I immediately opened the paper inclosed, in which, with the utmost impatience, I read as follows:
• I saw a person with your family yesterday at the races, to whom, as I was soon after informed, you intended to give your daughter. Upon this occasion, it is my indispensable duty to acquaint you, that if his character is to be determined by his company, he will inevitably entail diseases and beggary upon his posterity, whatever be the merit of his wife, or the affluence of his fortune. He overtook me on the road from London a few weeks ago, in company with a wretch, who, by their discourse, appeared to be his old and familiar acquaintance, and whom I well remember to have been brought before my friend Justice Worthy, when I was accidentally at his house, as the keeper of a brothel in Covent Garden. He has since won a considerable sum with false dice at the masquerade, for which he was obliged to leave the kingdom, and is still liable to a prosecution. Be assured that I have perfect knowledge of both; for some incidents, which it is not necessary to mention, kept me near them so long on the road, that it is impossible I should be mistaken.
• I am, Sir, your's, &c.
The moment I had read this letter, the riddle was solved. I knew Mr. Trueman to be the gentleman, whom I had concurred with a stranger, picked up by accident, to insult without provocation on the road. I was in a moment covered with confusion; and though I was alone, could not help hiding my face with my hands. I abhorred my folly, which appeared yet more enormous every time it was reviewed.
I courted the society of a stranger, and a stranger I persecuted with insult: thus I associated with infamy, and thus my associate became known. I hoped, however, to convince Sir George, that I had no knowledge of the wretch whose infamy I had shared, except that which I acquired from the letter of his friend. But, before I had taken proper measures for my justification, I had the mortification to hear, that the lady was married to a neighbouring gentleman, who had long made his addresses, and whom Sir George had before rejected in the ardour of his friendship for my father.
How narrow, Mr. Adventurer, is the path of rectitude, and how much may be lost by the slightest deviation !
I am your
N° 113. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1753.
Ad humum mærore gravi deducit & angit.
Wrings the sad soul, and bends it down to earth.
ONE of the most remarkable differences betwixt ancient and modern tragedy, arises from the prevailing custom of describing only those distresses that are occasioned by the passion of love; a passion which, from the universality of its dominion, may doubtless justly claįm a large share in representations of human life; but which, by totally engrossing the theatre, hath contributed to degrade that noble school of virtue into an academy of effeminacy.
When Racine persuaded the celebrated Arnauld to read his Phædra, · Why,' said that severe critic to his friend, ' have you falsified the manners of Hippolitus, and represented him in love?' Alas!' replied the poet, ' without that circumstance, how would the ladies and the beaux have received my piece?' And it may well be imagined, that, to gratify so considerable and important a part of his audience, was the powerful motive that induced Corneille to enervate even the matchless and affecting story of Edipus, by the frigid and impertinent episode of Theseus's passion for Dirce.
Shakspeare has shewn us, by his Hamlet, Macbeth, and Cæsar, and, above all, by his Lear, that
very interesting tragedies may be written, that are not founded on gallantry and love; and that Boileau was mistaken, when he affirmed,
de l'amour la sensible peinture, Est pour aller au cour la route la plus sûre.
Those tender scenes that pictur'd love impart,
The distresses in this tragedy are of a very uncommon nature, and are not touched upon by any other dramatic author. They are occasioned by a rash resolution of an aged monarch of strong passions and quick sensibility, to resign his crown, and to divide his kingdom amongst his three daughters; the youngest of whom, who was his favourite, not answering his sanguine expectations in expressions of affection to him, he for ever banishes, and endows her sisters with her allotted share. Their unnatural ingratitude, the intolerable affronts, indignities, and cruelties he suffers from them, and the remorse he feels from his imprudent resignation of his power, at first inflame him with the most violent rage, and, by degrees, drive him to madness and death. This is the outline of the fable.
I shall confine myself, at present, to consider singly the judgment and art of the poet, in describing the origin and progress of the distraction of Lear; in which, I think, he has succeeded better than any other writer ; even than Euripides himself, whom Longinus so highly commends for his representation of the madness of Orestes.
It is well contrived, that the first affront that is offered Lear, should be a proposal from Gonerill, his eldest daughter, to lessen the number of his knights, which must needs affect and irritate a person so jealous of his rank and the respect due to