Page images

void of some ambition; but what he felt he acknowledged, and was never averse to vindicate. As he never censured any one who indulged their humour inoffensively, so he claimed no manner of applause for those pursuits which gratified his own. But the sentiments he entertained of honour, and the dignity conferred by royal authority, made it wonderful how he bore the thoughts of obscurity and oblivion. He mentioned, with applause, the youths, who by merit had arrived at station; but he thought that all should in life's visit leave some token of their existence; and that their friends might more reasonably expect it from them, than they from their posterity.

There were few he thought, of talents so very inconsiderable, as to be unalterably excluded from all degrees of fame: and in regard to such as had liberal education, he ever wished that in some art or science they would be persuaded to engrave their names. He thought it might be some pleasure to reflect, that their names would, at least, be honoured by their descendants, altho' they might escape the notice of such as were not prejudiced in their favour.

What a lustre, said he, does the reputation of a Wren, a Waller, or a Walsingham, cast on their remotest progeny and who would not wish rather to be descended from them, than from the mere carcase of nobility? Yet wherever superb titles are faithfully offered as the reward of merit, he thought the allurements of ambition were too transporting to be resisted. But to return.

Polydore, a new inhabitant in a sort of wild uninhabited country, was now ascended to the top of a mountain, and in the full enjoyment of a very extensive prospect. Before him a broad and winding valley, variegated with all the charms of landscape. Fertile meadows, glittering streams, pendent rocks and nodding ruins. But these, indeed, were much less the objects of his attention, than those distant hills and

spires that weré almost concealed by one undistinguished azure. The sea, indeed, appeared to close the scene, though distant as it was, it but little variegated the view. Hardly, indeed, were it distinguishable but for the beams of a descending sun, which, at the same time, warned our traveller to return, before the duskiness and dews of evening had rendered his walk uncomfortable.

He had now descended to the foot of the mountain, when he remarked an old hermit approaching to a little hut which he had formed with his own hands, at the very bottom of the precipice. Polydore, all enamoured of the beauties he had been surveying, could not avoid wondering at his conduct, who, not content with shunning all commerce with mankind, had contrived as much as possible to exclude all views of nature. He accosted him in the manner following :

Father,' said he, it is with no small surprise, that I observe your choice of situation, by which you seem to neglect the most distant and delightful landscape that ever my eyes beheld. The hill, beneath which you have contrived to hide your habitation, would have afforded you such a variety of natural curiosities, as to a person so contemplative, must appear highly entertaining and as the cell to which you are advancing is seemingly of your own contrivance, methinks it was probable you would so have placed it, as to present them, in all their beauty to your eye.' The hermit made him this answer. 'My son, said he, 'the evening approaches, and you have deviated from your way. I would not therefore detain you by my story, did I not imagine the moon would prove a safer guide to you, than that setting sun, which you must otherwise rely on. Enter, therefore, for awhile into my cave, and I will then give you some account of my adventures, which will solve your doubts perhaps more effectually than any method I can propose. But before you enter my lone abode,

calculated only for the use of meditation, dare to con-. temn superfluous magnificence, and render thyself worthy of the being I contemplate.


Know, then, that I owe what the world is pleased to call my ruin (and, indeed, justly, were it not for the use which I have made of it) to an assured dependence, in a literal sense, on confused and distant prospects a consideration, which hath, indeed, so affected me, that I shall never henceforth enjoy a landscape that lies at so remote a distance, as not to exhibit all its parts. And, indeed, were I to form the least pretensions to what your world calls taste, I might even then perhaps contend, that a well discriminated landscape, was at all times to be preferred to a distant and promiscuous azure.

I was born in the parish of a nobleman who arrived to the principal management of the business of the nation. The heir of his family and myself were of the same age, and for some time school-fellows. I had made considerable advances in his esteem; and the mutual affection we entertained for each other, did not long remain unobserved by his family or my own. He was sent early on his travels, pursuant to a very injudicious custom, and my parents were solicited to consent that I might accompany him. Intimations were given to my friends, that a person of such importance as his father might contribute much more to my immediate promotion, than the utmost diligence I could use in pursuit of it. My father, I remember, assented with reluctance: my mother, fired with the ambition of her son's future greatness, through much importunity, wrung from him his slow leave." I, for my own part, wanted no great persuasion. We made what is called the great tour of Europe. We neither of us, I believe, could be said to want natural sense; but being banished so early in life, were more attentive to every deviation from our own indifferent customs, than to any useful examination of their


polices or manners. ripens very slowly. all at once.

Judgment, for the most part, Fancy often expands her blossoms

We were now returning home from a six years absence; anticipating the caresses of our parents and relations, when my ever-honoured companion was attacked by a fever. All possible means of safety proving finally ineffectual, he accosted me in one of his lucid intervals as follows.


Alas! my Clytander! my life, they tell me, is of very short continuance. The next paroxysm of my fever will probably be conclusive. The prospect of this sudden change does not allow me to speak the gratitude I owe thee; much less to reward the kindness on which it is so justly grounded. Thou knowest I was sent away early from my parents, and the more rational part of my life has been passed with thee alone. It cannot be but they will prove solicitous in their enquiries concerning me. Thy narrative will awaken their tenderness, and they cannot but conceive some for their son's companion and his friend. What I would hope is, that they will render thee some services, in place of those their beloved son intended thee, and which I can unfeignedly assert, would have been only bounded by my power. My dear companion! farewell! All other temporal enjoyments have I banished from my heart; but friendship lingers long, and it is with tears I say, farewell!'

'My concern was truly so great, that on my arrival in my native country, it was not at all increased by the consideration that the nobleman on whom my hopes depended, was removed from all his places. I waited on him; and he appeared sensibly grieved that the friendship he had ever professed could now so little avail me. He recommended me, however, to a friend of his that was then of the successful party, and who, he was assured, would at his request, assist me to the utmost of his power. I was now in the prime of life,


which I effectually consumed on the empty forms of court-attendance. Hopes arose before me like bubbles upon a stream; as quickly succeeding each other, as superficial, and as vain. Thus busied in my pursuit, and rejecting the assistance of cool examination, I found the winter of life approaching, and nothing procured to shelter or protect me when my second patron died. A race of new ones appeared before me, and even yet kept my expectations in play. I wished, indeed, I had retreated sooner; but to retire at last unrecompensed, and when a few month's attendance might happen to prove successful, was beyond all power of resolution.

'However, after a few years more attendance, distributed in equal proportions on each of these new patrons, I at length obtained a place of much trouble and small emolument. On the acceptance of this, my eyes seemed open all at once. I had no passion remaining for the splendor which was grown familiar to me, and for servility and confinement I entertained an utter aversion. I officiated, however, for a few weeks in my post, wondering still more and more how I could ever covet the life I led. I was ever most sincere, but sincerity clashed with my situation every moment of the day. In short, I returned home to a paternal income, not, indeed, intending that austere life in which you at present find me engaged. I thought to content myself with common necessaries, and to give the rest, if aught remained, to charity; determined, however, to avoid all appearance of singularity. But alas! to my great surprise, the person who supplied my expences had so far embroiled my little affairs, that, when my debts, &c. were discharged, I was unable to subsist in any better manner than I do at present. I grew at first entirely melancholy; left the country where I was born, and raised the humble roof that covers me in a country where I am not known. I now begin to think myself happy in

« PreviousContinue »