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Knox, used to tell us of Popish indulgences : folks
any thing they like, without being in the wrong; and every thing that is the Ton is right, let it be what it will.
Alas! Sir, if the Ton would let poor people alone who don't wish for distinction, there would be the less to complain of: but the misfortune is, that one must be in the Ton whether one's mind gives them to it or not; at least I am told so.. We have a French Friseur, whom our Maitre d'Hotel Sabot recommended, who makes great use of this phrase. He screwed up my hair till I thought I should have fainted with the pain, and I did not sleep a wink all the night after, because he said that a hundred little curls were now become the Ton. He recommended a shoemaker, who, he said, made for all the people of the Ton, who pinched my toes till I could hardly walk across the room; because little feet were the Ton. My staymaker, another of the same set, brought me home a pair of stays that were but a few inches round at the waist : and my maid and Sabot broke three laces before they could get
them to meet , because small waists were the Ton. I sat at two dinners without being able to eat a morsel ; because (I am ashamed to tell it, Sir,) my stays would not hold a bit However, I would submit to the Ton no longer in that article ; and when I got home in the evening, I took out my scissars in a passion, and cut a great slash in the sides. I was resolved I would not be squeezed to death for all the Ton in the world.
And moreover the Ton is not satisfied with tearing the hair out of our heads, with pinching our feet, and squeezing the pit of our stomach, but we must have manners which, under favour, Sir, I think very odd, and which my grandmother (I was bred up at my grandniother's) would have whipped me
of me ;
for, that she would, if I had ventured to shew them when I was with her. I am told that none but a Ninny would look down in the sheepish way I do ; but that when I meet a gentleman in our walks, I must look as full at him as I can, to slew my eyes ; and laugh, to shew my teeth (all our family have white teeth); and flourish my rattan to shew my shapes. And though in a room I am to speak as low and mumblipg as I can, to look as if did not care whéther I was heard or not; yet in a public place, I am to talk as loud and as fast as possible, and call the men by their plain surnames, and tell all about our last night's parties, and a great many other things, Mr. Lounger, which I can't do for the heart
sister-in-law comes on amazingly, as Miss Gusto says. But then she has been in India, and she was not brought up with my grandmother, I protest, though I would be ashamed to let Miss Gusto know it, that often, when I am wishing to practise some of her lessons, I think I see my grandmother with her bunch of keys at her apron-string, her amber-headed stick in one hand, and the Ladies Calling, in the other, looking at me from under her spectacles, with such a frown, Mr. Lounger !-it frightens the Ton quite out of my
head. After all, I am apt to believe, that the very great trouble, and the
inconveniences to which we put ourselves to attain this distinction of the Ton are in a great measure labour in vain ; that our music, our dancing, and our good-breeding, will perhaps be out of fashion before we have come to any degree of perfection in all or any of these accomplishments; for some of the fine ladies and fine gentlemen who visit us, say, that the Ton here is no Ton at all, for that the true and genuine Ton (like the true and Milk of Roses) is only to be found in London. Nay, some of the finest of those fine ladies and gen
tlemen go a step farther, and inform us, that the Ton of London itself is mere Twaddle, and that the only right Ton is to be found in Paris. I hope in goodness, however, that my sister, if she is determined, as she sometimes hints, to chase the Ton that length, will drop me by the way, or rather allow me to return again to the country. Old
sparrows (the proverb says, Mr. Lounger) are ill to tame.- Not that I am oli neither; but I believe I am not quite young enough to learn to be happy in the sort of life we lead here : and though I try all I can to think it a happy one, and am sure to say so in every place to which we go, yet I can't help often secretly wishing I were back again at my father's, where I should not be obliged to be happy whether I would or not.
Your aflicted (if I may venture to say so) humble servant,
P. S. La! what do you think, Mr. Lounger? they tell me we are to go to a masked Ball. My sis. ter-in-law is quite in raptures about it. • Mr. Dunn, she says, “is to open his whole Hotel, bed-rooms and all, for the occasion ; and she is to be a shepherdess, and Captain Coupeé a shepherd; and they are to dance an Allemande together.' And she wants me to be a Nun, or, as Captain Coupée advises, a Vestal Virgin ; but I told them, I had no mind to be a Nun, nor a Vestal Virgin neither, that I had not. But my sister says, it is only in sport; and Captain Coupée declares it will be the farthest in the world from making people Nuns or Vestals.-Well, I am half afraid, Mr. Lounger; and yet I think I shall go. Were my grandmother to lift up her head now, I will think no more of her till the masked ball is over.
N' 57. SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 1786.
To the Author of the LOUNGER.
SIR, THERE is nothing in which mankind have differed more than in the representations they have given of human life. One class of men describes it as full of happiness and enjoyment, as a path covered with flowers ; another has presented us with descriptions, which shew nothing but disappointment and vexation, which represent life as a path strewed with thorns, as a vale of misery and tears. Truth perhaps lies somewhere in the middle between those two opinions; men were not born only to be miserable ; and yet complete happiness is not the lot of any one on this side the grave. Life is a chequered thing, a building of Mosaic work, a road where flowers and thorns are both to be met with.
It has always, however, been my opinion, that as the giving amiable and fair pictures of life proceeds from a happier temperament of mind than the inclination to delineate those of a gloomy kind ; so the indulging of such views contributes much more to happiness and virtue than the opposite impressions of a darker and more dismal uature. To think well of, and have respect for ourselves and the world around us, is one step to virtue and benevolence ; bat this step cannot be gained by a person who has been taught to consider himself and every thing around him in a gloomy and an unfavourable light.
There is one period of life which authors have been at pains to picture differently, according as they have been accustomed to take favourable unfavour. able views of the world in general. Old age, that period at which all wish to arrive, and which it is the fate of few only to reach, has been described by one set of men, as of all situations the most comfort. less and the most gloomy ; as the last stage of hu. man infirmity and helplessness, from which nothing but death can relieve ; and the misery of which is enhanced by the dread of that very death, the only cure for all its woe. Another class of men has represented old age as one of the brightest periods of human life; as that period in which we may be said to enioy life twice, having not only present comforts to enjoy, but all those of a life already past to reflect on. - Fructus autem senectutis,' says Tully, ' 'est ante partorum bonorum memoria et copia.' The person
who now addresses you is in this latter period, and though the case of one individual can be of little use in confirming a general opinion, yet I may perhaps be allowed to tell you, that I have never tasted more happiness than I have done for the last
years of my life.
I entered upon the world with a small patrimony ; but by close attention to my profession, I was soon rendered superior to the fear of poverty; and have now retired from business with a fortune, though not large yet fully adequate to all my wants, and which has been sufficient to rear a numerous family. My profession was such as led me to direct my labours to the immediate use and advantage of my fellow creatures ; and I would not forfeit, for any consideration, the pleasure which, in my present advanced period of life, I receive from recalling to my mind the persons to whom I think
labours have been of some advantage.