« AnteriorContinuar »
conferring a favour on their guest. The eldest had no sooner finished than the youngest boy presented himself; upon which his father observed, that it would be doing injustice to Will not to hear him, as well as his elder brother Jack; and in this
way was my friend obliged to spend the morning, in performing the office of a schoolmaster to the children in succession.
Mr. Fleetwood liked a game at whist, and promised himself a party in the evening free from interruption. Cards were accordingly proposed; but Mrs. Selby observed, that her little daughter, who still complained of her scalded finger, needed amusement as much as any of the company. In place of cards, Miss Harriet insisted on the game of the goose. Down to it we sat; and to a stranger it would have been not unamusing to see Mr. Fleetwood, in his sorrowful countenance, at the royal and pleasant game of the goose, with a child of seven years old. It is unnecessary to dwell longer on particulars. During all the time we were at Mr. Selby's, the delighted parents were indulging their fondness, while Mr. Fleetwood was repining and fretting in secret.
Having finished our intended round of visits, we turned our course homewards, and at the first inn on our road, were joined by one Mr. Johnson,
with whom I was slightly acquainted. Politeness would not allow me to reject the offer of his company, especially as I knew him to be a good-natured inoffensive man. Our road lay through a glen, romantic, and picturesque, which we reached soon after sunset, in a mild and still evening. On each side were stupendous mountains; their height; the rude and projecting rocks, of which some of them were composed; the gloomy caverns they seemed to contain; and the appearance of devastation, occasioned by traces of cataracts falling from their tops, presented
to our view a scene truly sublime. Mr. Fleetwood felt an unusual elevation of spirit. His soul rose within him, and was swelled with that silent awe, so well suited to his contemplative mind. In the words of the poet, he could have said,
-Welcome, kindred glooms,
-Be these my theme,
And heavenly musing! Our silence had now continued for about a quarter of an hour; and an unusual stillness prevailed around us, interrupted only by the tread of our horses, which, returning at stated intervals, assisted by the echo of the mountains, formed a hollow sound, which increased the solemnity of the scene.
Mr. Johnson, tiring of this silence, and not having the least comprehension of its cause, all at once, and without warning, lifted up his voice, and began the song of 'Push about the Jorum.' Mr. Fleetwood's soul was then wound up to its utmost height. At the sound of Mr. Johnson's voice he started, and viewed him with a look of horror, mixed with contempt. During the rest of our journey, I could hardly prevail on my friend to be civil to him : and though he is, in every respect, a worthy and a goodnatured man, and though Mr. Fleetwood and he have often met since, the former has never been able to look upon him without disgust.
Mr. Fleetwood's entertainment in this short tour has produced, in my mind, many reflections, in which I doubt not I shall be anticipated by my readers.
There are few situations in life, from which a man. who has confined his turn for enjoyment within the bounds pointed out by nature, will not receive satisfaction : but if we once transgress those bounds, and,
seeking after too much refinement, indulge a false and mistaken delicacy, there is hardly a situation in which we will not be exposed to disappointment and disgust.
Had it not been for this false, this dangerous delicacy, Mr. Fleetwood, instead of uneasiness, would have received pleasure from every visit we made, from every
incident we met with. At the first house to which we went, it was not necessary that he should have preferred the bottle to the enjoyment of a fine evening in the country; but that not being the sentiments of the company, had he, without repining, given up his taste to theirs, instead of feeling disgust at what appeared to him coarse in their enjoyments, he would have felt pleasure at the mirth and good-humour which prevailed around him; and the very reflection, that different employments gave amusement to different men, would have afforded a lively and philanthropical satisfaction.
It was scarcely to be expected, that the barrenness and dryness of the conversation at our second visit, could fill up, or entirely satisfy the delicate and improved mind of Mr. Fleetwood ; but had he not laid it down almost as a rule, not to be pleased with any thing, except what suited his own idea of enjoyment, he might, and ought to have received pleasure from the sight of a worthy family, spending their time innocently, happily, and usefully; usefully, both to themselves and to their country.
It was owing to the same false sensibility, that he was so much chagrined in the family of Mr. Selby. The fond indulgence of the parents did, perhaps, carry their attention to their children beyond the rules of propriety; but, had it not been for the finicalness of mind in Mr. Fleetwood, had he given the natural benevolence of his heart its play, he would have re
ceived a pleasure from witnessing the happiness of two virtuous parents in their rising offspring, that would have much overbalanced any uneasiness arising from the errors in their conduct.
Neither, but for this excessive refinement, would Mr. Fleetwood have been hurt by the behaviour of Mr. Johnson. Though he might not have considered him as a man of taste, he would, nevertheless, have regarded him as a good and inoffensive man; and he would have received pleasure from the reflection, that neither goodness nor happiness are confined to those minds, which are fitted for feeling and enjoying all the pleasures of nature or of art.--A.
No 11. TUESDAY, MARCH 2, 1779.
Since the commencement of the late levics, I understand that not only drill serjeants have had daily access to the lobbies and parlours of many decent and peaceable houses in this metropolis, but that professors of the noble science of defence have been so constantly occupied in attending grown gentlemen, and ungrown officers, that the former scholars have found great difficulty in procuring masters to push with them, and have frequently been obliged to have recourse to the less edifying opposition of one another.
The purpose of the serjeant's instructions, every lover of his country must approve. The last-mentioned art, that of fencing, I formerly took great delight in myself, and still account one of the healthiest of all house exercises ; insomuch that when I am in the country, where I make it a rule to spend a certain part of every day in exercise of some kind, I generally take up my foil in rainy mornings, and push with great success against the figure of Herod, in a piece of old arras that was taken down from my grandmother's room, and is now pasted up on the wall of the laundry.
When those two sciences, however, go upon actual service, they are to be considered in different lights, that of the serjeant, as it teaches a man to stand well on his legs, to carry his body firm, and to move it alertly, is much the same as the fencing-master's; but in their last stage they depart somewhat from each other; the serjeant proposes to qualify a man for encountering his enemy in battle, the other to fit him for meeting his companion, or friend it may be, in a duel.
My readers will, I hope, give me credit for the Mirror being always in a very polite paper; I am not, therefore, at all disposed to bestow on a practice só gentleman-like as duelling, those severe reprehensions, equally trite and unjust, in which some of my predecessors have indulged themselves. During my residence abroad I was made perfectly acquainted with the arguments drawn in its favour, from the influence it has on the manners of the gentleman and the honour of the soldier. It is my intention only to point out those bounds within which the most punctilious valour may be contented to restrain itself; and in this I shall be the more guarded, as I mean the present paper principally for the use of the new-raised regiments above alluded to, whose honour I dearly prize, and would preserve as scrupulously inviolate as possible. I hold such an essay peculiarly proper at this juncture, when some of them are about to embark on long voyages, in which even goodnatured people, being tacked together like man'and