« AnteriorContinuar »
doubt concerning the propriety of your conduct, or have apprehensions that your motives are not exactly what you conceive or wish them to be, I advise you forthwith to consult the Mirror. You will there see yourself without disguise; and be enabled, not merely to wipe from your face any accidental dust, or to adjust your periwig of three tails, but to rectify your conduct, and adjust your deportment.” In truth, Sir, I have made this experiment, according to the direction of the Dervise, so often, and with such small satisfaction to myself, that I am heartily sick of it. I have consulted my Mirror, in the act of giving alms, expecting, no doubt, to see myself charactered with the softest compassion, and, behold! I was swollen and bloated with ostentation. Glowing with indignation, as I conceived, against the vices of mankind, and their blindness to real merit, I have looked in the Mirror, and seen the redness of Anger, the flushings of disappointed Ambition. Very lately, a friend of mine read me an essay he had written; he seemed to me somewhat conscious of its merit; he expected, and was entitled to some applause; “but,” said I to myself, “ I will administer to no man's vanity, nor expose my friend by encouraging his self-conceit;" and so observed an obstinate unyielding silence. I looked in the Mirror, and am ashamed to tell you my motive was
not so pure.
But, instead of exposing my own infirmities, I will, in perfect consistency with some of the most powerful principles in our nature, and in a manner much less exceptionable to myself, explain the properties of my Mirror, by the views it gives me of other men.
«“Whenever,” continued the Dervise, "you have any doubt concerning the conduct of another person, take an opportunity, and, when he is least aware,
catch a copy of his face in your
Mirror.” It would do your heart good, Sir, if you delight in thats pecies of moral criticism which some people denominate scandal, to see the discoveries I have made. Many a grave physician have I seen laying his head on one side, fixing his solemn eye on the far corner of a room, or poring with steady gaze on his watch, and seeming to count the beats of his patient's pulse, when, in fact, he was numbering, in his own mind, the guineas accruing from his circle of morning visits, or studying what fine speech he should make to my Lady Duchess; or, if his patient were a fair patient -but here I would look no longer.
• I have often carried my Mirror to church, and, sitting in a snug corner, have catched the flaming orator of the pulpit in many a rare grimace, and expressive gesture; expressive not of humility, but of pride; not of any desire to communicate instruction, but to procure applause; not to explain the gospel, but to exhibit the preacher.
6 " This Mirror," said the Mussulman, continuing his valedictory speech, “ will not only display your acquaintance as they really are, but as they wish to be: and for this purpose,” shewing me the way, "you have only to hold it in a particular position. From this use of the Mirror, holding it as the Dervise desired me, I confess I have received special amusement. How many persons hideously deformed have appeared most divinely beautiful; how many dull fellows have become amazingly clever; how many shrivelled cheeks have suddenly claimed a youthful bloom! Yet, I must confess, how surprising soever the confession may appear, that I have found mankind, in general, very well satisfied with their talents : and, as far as regards moral and religious improvement, I recollect very few instances of persons who wished for changes in their present condition. On the contrary, I have met with other examples; and have seen persons not a little solicitous to acquire the easy use of some fashionable impieties and immoralities. I have seen delicate females, to say nothing of dainty gentlemen, wishing to forget their catechism; striving to overcome their reluctance, and meditating, in their own minds, the utterance of some fashionable piece of raillery against religion; yet, like the Amen of Macbeth, I have often seen it stick in their throat.
But,” continued the Dervise, “ if you hold this Mirror in a fit posture, it will not only shew you men as they are, or as they wish to be, but with the talents of which they reckon themselves actually possessed; and in that very character or situation which they hold most suited to their abilities.” Now this property of the Mussulman's Mirror has given me more amusement than any other. By this means I have seen a whole company undergo instantaneous and strange transformation. I have seen the unwieldy burgess changed into a slender gentleman; the deep philosopher become a man of the world; the laborious merchant converted into a fox-hunter; the mechanic's wife in the guise of a countess; and the pert scrivener become a cropped ensign. I have seen those grave personages, whom you may observe daily issuing from their alleys at noon, with white wigs, black coats, buttoned, and inclined to gray, with a cane in one hand, and the other stationed at their side-pocket, beating the streets for political intelligence, and diving afterward into their native lanes, or rising in a coffee house in the full dignity of a spectacled nose; I have seen them moving in my Mirror in the shape of statesmen, ministers at foreign courts, chancellors of England, judges, justices of the peace, or chief magistrates in electing boroughs.
Now, Sir, as you have engaged in the important business of instructing the public, I reckon you a much fitter person than me to be possessed of this precious Mirror. By these presents, therefore, along with a paper of directions, I consign it into your hands. All that I demand of you, in return, is to use this extraordinary gift in a proper and becoming manner; for, like every other excellent gift, it is liable to be misused. Therefore be circumspect; any person say
make use of a false glass, or that the reflection is not just, or that the representation is partial; or, lastly, that it exhibits broken, distorted, or unnatural images. In full confidence that it will be an instrument in your hands for the most useful purposes, I am, Sir, Your obedient servant,
SIR, * SOME weeks ago I was called from my retreat in the country, where I have passed the last twenty years in the enjoyment of ease and tranquillity, by an important family concern, which made it necessary for me to come to town.
* Last Thursday I was solicited by an old friend to accompany him to the playhouse, to see the tragedy of King Lear; and, by way of inducement, he told me the part of Lear was to be performed by an actor who had studied the character under the English Roscius, and was supposed to play it somewhat
in the manner of that great master. As the theatre had been always my favourite amusement, I did not long withstand the entreaties of my friend; and when I reflected that Mr. Garrick was now gone to “that undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveller returns," I felt a sort of tender desire to see even a copy of that great original, from whose performances I had often, in the earlier part of my life, received such exquisite pleasure.
. As we understood the house was to be crowded, we went at an early hour, and seated ourselves in the middle of the pit, so as not only to see the play to advantage, but also to have a full view of the audience, which, I have often thought, is not the least pleasing part of a public entertainment. When the boxes began to fill, I felt a secret satisfaction in contemplating the beauties of the present times, and amused myself with tracing in the daughters, those features which, in the mothers and grandmothers, had charmed me so often.
My friend pointed out to me, in different parts of the house, some of the reigning toasts of our times, but so changed, that without his assistance, I never should have been able to find them out. I looked in vain for that form, that complexion, and those numberless graces, on which I had been accustomed
with admiration. But this change was not more remarkable, than the effect it had upon the beholders; and I could not help thinking the silent neglect with which those once celebrated beauties were now treated, by much too severe a punishment for that pride and haughtiness they had formerly assumed.
• While I was amusing myself in this manner, I observed that some of the upper boxes were filled with ladies, whose appearance soon convinced me that they were of an order of females more desirous of