Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

should be first examined, whether it be conducive to the interest of society. Among the many publications with which the press is every day burthened, I have often wondered why we never had, as in other countries, an Economical Journal, which might at once direct to all the useful discoveries in other countries, and spread those of our own. As other journals serve to amuse the learned, or, what is more often the case, to make them quarrel, while they only serve to give us the history of the mischievous world, for so I call our warriors; or the idle world, for so may the learned be called; they never trouble their heads about the most useful part of mankind, our peasants and our artizans. Were such a work carried into execution with proper management and just direction, it might serve as a repository for every useful improvement, and increase that knowledge which learning often serves to confound. Sweden seems the only country where the science of economy appears to have fixed its empire. In other countries, it is cultivated only by a few admirers, or by societies which have not received sufficient sanction to become completely useful; but here there is founded a Royal Academy, destined to this purpose only, composed of the most learned and powerful members of the state; an academy which declines every thing which only terminates in amusement, erudition, or curiosity, and admits only of observations tending to illustrate husbandry, agriculture, and every real physical improvement. In this country nothing is left to private rapacity, but every improvement is immediately diffused, and its inventor immediately recompensed by the state. Happy were it so in other countries by this means every impostor would be prevented from ruining or deceiving the public with pretended discoveries or nostrums, and every real inventor would not, by this means, suffer the inconveniences of suspicion. In short, the economy, equally unknown to the prodigal and avaricious, seems to be a just mean between both extremes; and to a transgression of this at present decried virtue, it is that we are to attribute a great part of the evils which infest society. A taste for superfluity, amusement, and pleasure bring effeminacy, idleness, and expense, in their train. But a thirst of riches is always proportioned to our debauchery, and the greatest prodigal is toofrequently found to be the greatest miser; so that the vices which seem the most opposite, are often found to produce each other; and, to avoid both, it is only necessary to be frugal.

Virtus est medium vitiorum, et utrinque reductum.—HoR.(1)

THE FAME MACHINE ;
A Reverie. (2)

Scarcely a day passes in which we do not hear compliments paid to Dryden, Pope, and other writers of the last age, while not a month comes forward that is not loaded with invective against the writers of this. Strange that our critics should be fond of giving their favours to those who are insensible of the obligation, and their dislike to those who, of all mankind, are most apt to retaliate the injury.

Even though our present writers had not equal merit with their predecessors, it would be politic to use them with ceremony. Every compliment paid them would be more agreeable, in proportion as they least deserved it. Tell a lady with a handsome face that she is pretty, she only thinks it her due ; it is what she has heard a thousand times before from others, and disregards the compliment: but assure a lady, the cut of whose visage is something more plain, that she looks killing to-day, she instantly bridles up, and feels the force of the well-timed flattery the whole day after. Compliments, which we think are deserved, we accept only as debts with indifference; but those which conscience informs us we do not merit, we receive with the same gratitude that we do favours given away. Our gentlemen, however, who preside at the distribution of literary fame, seem resolved to part with praise, neither from motives of justice or generosity: one would think, when they take pen in hand, that it was only to blot reputations, and to put their seals to the packet which consigns every new-born effort to oblivion. Yet, notwithstanding the republic of letters hangs at present so feebly together; though those friendships which once promoted literary fame seem to be discontinued; though every writer who now draws the quill seems to aim at profit, as well as applause, many among them are probably laying in stores for immortality, and are provided with a sufficient stock of reputation to last the whole journey. As I was indulging these reflections, in order to eke out the present page, I could not avoid pursuing the metaphor, of going a journey in my imagination, and formed the following reverie, too wild for allegory, and too regular for a dream. I fancied myself placed in the yard of a large inn, in which there were an infinite number of waggons and stagecoaches, attended by fellows who either invited the company to take their places, or were busied in packing their baggage. Each vehicle had its inscription, shewing the place of its destination. On one I could read, “The pleasure stagecoach;” on another, “The waggon of industry;” on a third, “The vanity whim;” and on a fourth, “The landau of riches.” I had some inclination to step into each of these, one after another; but I know not by what means I passed them by, and at last fixed my eye upon a small carriage, Berlin fashion, which seemed the most convenient vehicle at a distance in the world; and, upon my nearer approach, found it to be “The Fame Machine.” I instantly made up to the coachman, whom I found to be an affable and seemingly good-natured fellow. He informed me, that he had but a few days ago returned from the Temple of Fame, towhich he had been carrying Addison, Swift, Pope, Steele, Congreve, and Colley Cibber. That they made but indifferent company by the way, and that he once or twice was going to empty his berlin of the whole cargo: however, says he, I got them all safe home, with no other damage than a black eye, which Colley gave Mr. Pope, and am now returned for another coachful. “If that be all, friend,” said I, “and if you are in want of company, I'll make one with all my heart. Open the door; I hope the machine rides easy.” “Oh ; for that, sir, extremely easy.” But still keeping the door shut, and measuring me with his eye, “Pray, sir, have you no luggage 2 You seem to be a good-natured sort of a gentleman; but I don't find you have got any luggage, and I never permit any to travel with me but such as have something valuable to pay for coach-hire.” Examining my pockets, I own I was not a little disconcerted at this unexpected rebuff; but considering that I carried a number of the BEE under my arm, I was resolved to open it in his eyes, and dazzle him with the splendour of the page. He read the title and contents, however, without any emotion, and assured me he had never heard of it before. “In short, friend,” said he, now losing all his former respect, “you must not come in. I expect better passengers; but, as you seem a harmless creature, perhaps if there be room left, I may let you ride awhile for charity.” I now took my stand by the coachman at the door, and since I could not command a seat, was resolved to be as useful as possible, and earn by my assiduity what I could not by my merit. The next that presented for a place was a most whimsical figure indeed. He was hung round with papers of his own composing, not unlike those who sing ballads in the streets, and came dancing up to the door with all the confidence of instant admittance. The volubility of his motion and address prevented my being able to read more of his cargo than the word “Inspector,” which was written in great letters at the top of some of the papers. He opened the coach-door himself without any ceremony, and was just slipping in, when the coachman, with as little ceremony, pulled him back. Our figure seemed perfectly angry at this repulse, and demanded gentleman's satisfaction. “Lord, sir s” replied the coachman, “instead of proper luggage, by your bulk you seem loaded for a West-India voyage. You are big enough with all your papers to crack twenty stage-coaches. Excuse me, indeed, sir, for you must not enter.” Our figure now began to expostulate: he assured the coachman, that though his baggage seemed so bulky, it was perfectly light, and that he would be contented with the smallest corner of room. But Jehu was inflexible, and the carrier of the Inspectors was sent to dance back again with all his papers fluttering in the wind. We expected to have no more trouble from this quarter, when in a few

(1) [“For virtue in a medium lies,
From whence these different follies rise.”—FRANCIs.]

(2) [The characters introduced into this paper are, first, Sir John Hill, notorious at the time for writing on all subjects and professing physic and botany, and on whom Garrick wrote the epigram—

* For physic and farces, his equal there scarce is,
His farces are physic, his physica farce is—”

The next in order are Arthur Murphy, Dr. Johnson, Hume, and Smollett.]

(1) [The “Inspector' originally appeared in the London Daily Advertiser. It commenced in March 1751, and was continued regularly every morning for about two years..]

« AnteriorContinuar »