« PreviousContinue »
sessed of the nature of his part, a proper action will necessarily follow. He informed me, that Wilks was to act Hamlet: I desired him to request of him, in my name, that he would wholly forget Mr. Betterton ; for that he failed in no part of Othello, but where he had him in view. An actor's forming himself by the carriage of another is like the trick among the widows, who lament their husbands ás their neighbours did theirs, and not according to their own sentiments of the deceased.
There is a fault also in the audience, which interrupts their satisfaction very much; that is, the figuring to themselves the actor in some part wherein they formerly particularly liked bim, and not attending to the part he is at that time performing. Thus, whatever Wilks, who is the strictest follower of nature, is acting, the vulgar spectators turn their thoughts upon Sir Harry Wildair.
When I had indulged the loquacity of an old man for some time, in such loose hints, I took my
leave of Mr. Mills: and was told, Mr. Elliot of St. James's coffee-house would speak with me.
His business was to desire I would, as I am an astrologer, let him know beforehand, who were to have the benefit tickets in the ensuing lottery; which knowledge he was of opinion he could turn to great account, as he was concerned in news.
I granted his request, upon an oath of secrecy, that he would only make his own use of it, and 'not let it be publicly knowo until after they were drawn. I had not done speaking, when he produced to me a plan which he had formed of keeping books, with the names of all such adventurers, and the pumbers of their tickets, as should come to him: in order to give an hourly account of what tickets shall come up during the whole time of the lottery, the drawing of which is to begin on Wednesday next. I liked his method of disguising the secret I had told bim : and pronounced himn a thriving man, who could so well watch the motion of things, aud profit by a prevailing humour and impatience so aptly, as to make his honest industry agreeable to his customers, as it is to be the messenger of their good fortune.
From the Trumpet in Sheer-lane, July 20. “ Ordered, that for the improvement of the pleasures of society, a member of this house, one of the most wakeful of the soporific assembly beyond Smith. field-bars, and one of the order of story-tellers in Holborn, may meet and exchange stale matter, and report the same to their principals.
· N. B. No man is to tell above one story in the same evening ; bụt has liberty to tell the same the night following."
Mr. Bickerstaff desires his love-correspondents to vary the names they shall assume in their future letters : for that he is overstocked with Philanders. No 202. TUESDAY, JULY 25, 1710.
Hor. I Ep. xi. ver. ult.
"True happiness is to no spot confin'd;
From my own Apartment, July 24. This afternoon I went to visit a gentleman of my acquaintance at Mile-end ; and passing through Stepney church-yard, I could not forbear entertaining myself with the inscriptions on the tombs and graves. Among others, I observed one with this notable memorial :
“ Here lies the body of T. B.”
This fantastical desire, of being remembered only by the two tirst letters of a name, led me into the contemplation of the vanity and imperfect attainments of ambition in general. When I run back in my imagination all the men whom I have ever known and conversed with in my whole life, there are but very few who have not used their faculties in the pursuit of what it is impossible to acquire ; or left the possession of what they might have been, at their setting oui, masters, to search for it where it was out of their reach. In this thought it was not possible to forget the instance of Pyrrhus, who, proposing to himself in discourse with a philosopher, one, and another, and another conquest, was asked, what he would do after all that? “ Then," says the king, “ we will make merry." He was well answered, “What hinders your doing that in the condition you are already?” The restless desire of exerting themselves above the common level of mankind is not to be resisted in some tempers; and niinds of this make may be observed in every condition of life. Where such men do not make 10 themselves, or meet with employment, the soil of their constitution runs into tares and weeds. An old friend of mine, who lost a major's post forty years ago, apd quitted, has ever since studied maps, encampments, retreats, and countermarches; with no other design but to feed his spleen and illhumour, and furnish himself with matter for arguing against all the successful actions of others. He that, at his first setting out in the world, was the gayest inan in our regiment; ventured his life with alacrity, and enjoyed it with satisfaction; encouraged men below him, and was courted by men above him, has been 'ever since the most froward creature breathing. His warm coniplexion spends itself now only in a general spirit of contradiction : for which he watches all occasions, and is in his conversation still upon centry, treats all men like enemies, with every other inpertinence of a speculative warrior.
He, that observes in himself this patural inquietude, should take all imaginable care to put his mind in some method of gratification; or he will soon find himself grow into the conditiou of this disappointed major. Instead of courting proper occasions to rise above others, he will be ever studious of pulling others down to him: it being the common refuge of disappointed ambition, to ease them
selves by detraction. It would be no great argu. ment against ambition, that there are such mortal things in the disappointment of it; but it certainly is a forcible exception, that there can be no solid happiness in the success of it. If we value popular praise, it is in the power of the meanest of the people to disturb us by calumny. If the fame of being happy, we cannot look into a village, but we see crowds in actual possessiou of what we seek only the appearance. To this may be added, that there is I know not what malignity in the minds of ordinary men, to oppose you in what they see you fond of; and it is a certain exception against a man's receiving applause, that he visibly courts it. However, this is not only the passion of great and undertaking spirits ; but you see it in the lives of such as, one would believe, were far enough removed from the ways of ambition. The rural esquires of this nation even eat and drink out of vanity. A vain glorious fox-hunter shall entertain half a county, for the ostentation of his beef and beer, without the least affection for any of the crowd about him. He feeds them, because he thinks it a superiority over them that he does so ; and they devour him, because they know he treats them out of insolence. This indeed is ambition in grotesque; but may figure to us the condition of politer men, whose only pursuit is glory. When the superior acts out of a principle of vanity, the dependent will be sure to allow it liim; because he knows it destructive of the very applause which is courted by the man who favours him, and conse. quently makes him nearer bimself.
But as every, man living has more or less of this incentive, which makes men impatient of an inactive condition, and urges men to attempt what