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Thus, with all the good intentions in the world to amendment, this creature sins on against Heaven, himself, his friends, and his country; who all call for a better use of his talents. There is not a being under the sun so miserable as this; he goes on in a pursuit he himself disapproves, and has no enjoyment but what is followed by remorse; no relief from remorse, but the repetition of his crime. It is possible I may talk of this person with too much indulgence; but I must repeat it, that I think this a eharacter which is the most the object of pity of any in tha world. The man in the pangs of the stone, gout, or any acute distemper, is not in so deplorable a condition, in the eye of right sense, as he that errs and repents, and repents and errs on. The fellow with broken limbs justly deserves your alms for his impotent condition ; but he that cannot use his reason is in a much worse state; for you see him in miserable circumstances, with his remedy at the same time in his own possession, if he would, or could use it. This is the cause that, of all ill characters, the Rake has the best quarter in the world; for when he is himself, and unruffled with intemperance, you see his natural faculties exert themselves, and attract an eye of favour towards his infirmities.
But if we look round us here, how many dull rogues are there, that would fain be what this poor man hates himself for? All the noise towards six in the evening is caused by his mimics and imitators. How ought men of sense to be careful of their actions, if it were merely from the indignation of seeing themselves ill drawn by such little pretenders! Not to
say, he that leads is guilty of all the actions of his followers; and a Rake has imitators whom you would never expect should
Second-hand vice, sure, of all is the most nauseous. There is
hardly a folly more absurd, or which seems less to be accounted for (though it is what we see every day,) than that grave and honest natures give into this way, and at the same time have good sense, if they thought fit to use it; but the fatality (under which most men labour) of desiring to be what they are not, makes them go out of a method in which they might be received with applause, and would certainly excel, into one wherein they will all their life have the air of strangers to what they aim at.
For this reason, I have not lamented the metamorphosis of any one I know, so much as of Nobilis; who was born with sweetness of temper, just apprehension, and every thing else that might make him a man fit for his order. But, instead of the pursuit of sober studies and applications, in which he would certainly be capable of making a considerable figure in the noblest assembly of men in the world; I say, in spite of that good nature, which is his proper bent, he will say ill-natured things aloud; put such as he was, and still should be, out of countenance; and drown all the natural good in him, to receive an artificial ill character, in which he will never succeed; for Nobilis is no Rake. He may guzzle as much wine as he pleases, talk bawdy if he thinks fit; but he may as well drink water-gruel, and go twice a day to church, for it will never do. I pronounce it again, Nobilis is no Rake. To be of that order, he must be vicious against his will, and not so by study or application. All “ Pretty Fellows” are also excluded to a man, as well as all inamoratos, or persons of the epicene gender, who gaze at one another in the presence of ladies. This class, of which I am giving you an account, is pretended to also by men of strong abilities in drinking; though they are such whom the liquor, not the conversation, keeps together. But blockheads may roar, fight, and stab, and be never the nearer; their labour is also lost; they want sense: they are no Rakes.
As a Rake among men is the man who lives in the constant abuse of his reason, so a coquette among women is one who lives in continual misapplication of her beauty. The chief of all whom I have the honour to be acquainted with, is pretty Mrs. Toss: she is ever in practice of something which disfigures her, and takes from her charms; though all she does tends to a contrary effect.
She has naturally a very agreeable voice and utterance, which she has changed for the prettiest lisp imaginable. She sees what she has a mind to see at half a mile distance; but poring with her eyes half shut at every one she passes by, she believes much more becoming. The Cupid on her fan and she have their eyes
full on each other, all the time in which they are not both in motion. Whenever her
is turned from that dear object, you may have a glance, and your bow, if she is in humour, returned as civilly as you make it; but that must not be in the presence of a man of greater quality: for Mrs. Toss is so thoroughly well-bred, that the chief person present has all her regards. And she who giggles at divine service, and laughs at her very mother, can compose herself at the approach of a man of a good estate.
Will's Coffee-house, June 9. A fine lady showed a gentleman of this company, for an eternal answer to all his addresses, a paper of verses, with which she is so captivated, that she professed the author should be the happy man in spite of all other pretenders. It is ordinary for love to make men poetical, and it had that effect on this enamoured man: but he was resolved to try his vein upon some of her confidants or retinue, before he ventured upon so high a theme as herself. To do
otherwise than so, would be like making an keroio poem a man's first attempt. Among the favourites to the fair one, he found her parrot not to be in the last degree : þę saw Poll had her ear, when his sighs were neglected. To write against him had been a fruitless labour; therefore he resolved to fatter him into his interest in the following manner :
To a Lady, on her PARROT.
and love could not prevail,
It is indeed a very just proposition to give that honour rather to the parrot than the other volatile. The parrot represents us in the state of making love: the dove, in the possession of the object beloved. But, instead of turning the dove off, I fancy it would be better if the chaise of Venus had hereafter a parrot added (as we see sometimes a third horse to a coach), which might intimate, that to be a parrot, is the only way to succeed; and to be a dove, to preserve your conquests.
If the swain would go on successfully, he must imitate the bird he writes upon : for he who would be loved by women, must never be silent before the favour, or open his lips after it.
From my own Apartment, June 10. I have so many messages from young gentlemen who expect preferment and distinction, that I am wholly at a loss in what manner to acquit myself. The writer of the following letter tells me in a postscript, he cannot go out of town until I have taken
some notice of him; and is very urgent to be somebody in it, before he returns to his commons at the university. But take it from himself. " To ISAAC BICKERSTAFF, Esquire, Monitor General of Great Britain.
Sheer-lane, June 8. • I have been above six months from the university; of age these three months; and so long in town. I was recommended to one Charles Bubbleboy* near the Temple, who has supplied me with all the furniture he says a gentleman ought to have. I desired a certificate thereof from him, which he said would require some time to consider of; and when I went yesterday morning for it, he tells me, upon due consideration, I still want some few odd things more to the value of threescore or fourscore pounds, to make me complete. I have bespoke them; and the favou I beg of you is, to know, when I am equipped, in what part or class of men in this town you will place Pray send me word what I am, and
you shall find me, Sir, your most humble servant,
JEFFRY NICKNACK." I am very willing to encourage young beginners; but am extremely in the dark how to dispose of this gentleman. I cannot see either his person or habit in this letter; but I will call at Charles's,t and know the shape of his snuff-box, by which I can settle his character. Though indeed, to know his full capacity, I ought to be informed whether he takes Spanish or Musty.
St. James's Coffee-house, June 10. Letters from the Low Countries, of the seventeenth instant
say, that the Duke of Marlborough and the * Charles Mather, at that time an eminent toyman in Fleet Street.
+ Charles Mather.