Page images
PDF
EPUB

'ger

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

' take away one's money than one's life; and yet it ' is very hard upon honest men, that they can't • travel about their business without being in dan

of these villains. And to be sure it would be 'better that all rogues were hanged out of the

way, than that one honest man should suffer. ' For my own part, indeed, I should not care to ' have the blood of any of them on my own hands; 'but it is very proper for the law to hang them all. What right hath any man to take sixpence from me, unless I give it him? Is there any honesty in such a man?'

No, surely,' cries Jones, po more than there is in him who takes the horses out of another man's stable, or who applies to his own use the money • which he finds, when he knows the right owner.'

These hints stopt the mouth of Partridge; nor did he open it again till Jones, having thrown some sarcastical jokes on his cowardice, he offered to excuse himself on the inequality of fire-arms, saying, 'A thousand naked n.en are nothing to one 'pistoi; for though it is true, it will kill but one ' at a single discharge, yet who can tell but that oně may be himself.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

THE

HISTORY

OF A

FOUNDLING.

BOOK XIII.

Containing the Space of Twelve Days.

CHAP. I.

An Intocation.

COME, bright love of fame, inspire my glowing breast: not thee I call, who, over swelling tides of blood and tears, dost bear the hero on to glory, while sighs of millions waft his spreading sails; but thee, fair, gentle maid, whom Mnesis, happy nymph, first on the banks of Hebrus did produce. Thee, whom Mæonia educated, whom Mantua charmed, and who, on that fair hill which overlooks the proud metropolis of Britain, sat'st, with thy Milton, sweetly tuning the heroic lyre; fill my ravished fancy with the hopes of charming ages yet to come. Foretel me that some tender maid, whose grandmother is yet unborn, hereafter, when, under the fictitious name of Sophia, she reads the real worth which once existed in my Charlotte, shall from her sympathetic breast send forth the heaving sigh. Do thou teach me not only to foresee, but

to enjoy, nay, even to feed on future praise. Comfort me by a solemn assurance, that when the little parlour in which I sit at this instant, shall be reduced to a worse furnished box, I shall be read, with honour, by those who never knew nor saw me, and whom I shall neither know nor see.

And thou, much plumper dame, whom no airy fornis nor phantoms of imagination clothe: whom the well-seasoned beef, and pudding richly stained with plumbs, delight. Thee, I call; of whom in a Treckschuyte, in some Dutch canal, the fat ufrow gelt, impregnated by a jolly merchant of Amsterdam, was delivered : in Grub-street school didst thou suck in the elements of thy erudition. Here hast thou, in thy maturer age, taught poetry to tickle not the fancy, but the pride of the patron. Comedy from thee learns a grave and solemn air; while tragedy storms loud, and rends th'affrighted theatres with its thunder. To soothe thy wearied limbs in slumber, Alderman History tells his tedious tale; and, again, to awaken thee, Monsieur Romance performs his surprising tricks of dexterity. Nor less thy well-fed bookseller obeys thy influence. By thy advice the heavy, unread, folio lump, which long had dozed on the dusty shelf, piece-mealed into numbers, runs nimbly through the nation. Instructed by thee some books, like quacks, impose on the world by promising wonders; while others turn beaus, and trust all their merits to a gilded outside. Come, thou jolly substance with thy shining face, keep back thy inspiration, but hold forth thy tempting rewards; thy shining, chinking heap; thy quickly convertible Bank-bill, big with unseen riches; thy often varying stock; the warm, the comfortable house; and, lastly, a fair portion of that bounteous mother, whose tlowing breasts yield redundant sustenance for all her numerous offspring, did not some too greedily and wantonly drive their brethren from the teat. Come thou, and if I am too tasteless of thy valuable treasures, warm my heart with the transporting thought of conveying them to others. Tell me, that through thy bounty, the prattling babes whose innocent play hath often been interrupted by my labours, may one time be amply rewarded for them.

And now this ill-yoked pair, this lean shadow and this fat substauce, have prompted me to write, whose assistance shall I invoke to direct my pen?

First, genius; thou gift of heaven; without whose aid in rain we struggle against the stream of nature. Thou, who dost sow the generous seeds which art nourishes, and brings to perfection. Do thou kindly take me by the hand, and lead me through all the mazes, the winding labyrinths of nature. Initiate me into all those mysteries which profane eyes never beheld. Teach me, which to thee is no difficult task, to know mankind better than they know themselves. Remove that mist which dims the intellects of mortals, and causes them to adore men for their art, or to detest them for their cunning in deceiving others, when they are, in reality, the objects only of ridicule, for deceiving themselves. Strip off the thin disguise of wisdom from self-conceit, of plenty from avarice, and of glory from ambition. *Come, thou that hast inspired thy Aristophanes, thy Lucian, thy Cervantes, thy Rabelais, thy Aloliere, thy Shakespeare, thy Swift, thy Marivaux, fill my pages with humour; till mankind learn the good-nature to laugh only at the follies of others, and the humility to grieve at their own.

And thou, almost the constant attendant on true genius, humanity, bring all thy tender sensations. If thou hast already disposed of them all between thy Allen and thy Lyttleton, steal them a little while from their bosoms. Not without these the tender scene is painted. From these alone proceed the noble disinterested friendship, the melting love, the generous sentiment, the ardent gratitude, the soft compassion, the candid opinion; and all those strong energies of a good mind,

a which fill the moistened eyes with tears, the glowing cheeks with blood, and swell the heart with tides of grief, joy, and benevolence.

And thou, O learning! (for without thy assistance nothing pure, nothing correct, can genius produce) do thou guide my pen. Thee in thy favourité fields, where the limpid, gently-rolling Thames washes thy Etonian banks, in early youth I have worshipped. To thee, at thy birclita altar, with true Spartan devotion, I have sacrificed my blood. Come then, and from thy vast, luxuriant stores, in long antiquity piled up, pour forth the rich profusion. Open thy Maonian and thy Mantuan coffers

, with whatever else includes thy pliilosophic, thy poetic, and thy historical treasures, whether with Greek or Roman characters thou hast chosen to inscribe the ponderous chests: give me a while that key to all thy treasures, which to thy Warburton thou has entrusted.

Lastly, come experience, long conversant with the wise, the good, the learned, and the polite. Nor with them only, but with every kind of character, from the minister at his levee, to the bailiff in his sponging-house; from the duchess at her drum, to the landlady behind her bar. From thee only can the manners of mankind be known; to which the recluse pedant, however great his parts, or extensive his learning may be, hath ever been a stranger.

Come all these, and more, if possible ; for arduous is the task I have undertaken: and without all your assistance, will, I find, be too heavy for me to support. But if you all smile on my labours, I hope still to bring ihem to a happy conclusion.

« PreviousContinue »