L O I T E R E R.
"Speak of us as we are."
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR,
And sold by C. S. RANN, OXFORD;
Mess. EGERTONS, Whitehall, LONDON; Mess. PEARSON
And ROLLASON, BIRMINGHAM; Mr. W. MEYLER, Grove,
BATH; AND Mess. COWSLADE and SMART, READING.
L O I T E R E R.
SATURDAY, October 17, 1789.
“God made the Country, but Man made the Town.”
THE merit of the following communication being too considerable to admit a doubt of its publication, yet the length of it such, as far exceeds the usual limits of one Paper, the Author of the Loiterer has, for the first time, permitted the same subject to extend through two numbers.
To the AUTHOR of the LOITERER.
SIR,THOUGH I have been a constant reader of your paper from its first appearance, it was not, till very lately, I ever entertained the most distant Idea of becoming your Correspondent. — Possessing parts certainly not above mediocrity, never having enjoyed the advantages of an University education, and rarely mixing with literary circles, I considered myself as ill-qualified to attack the vices, the follies, and the inconsistencies of a world, over which their tutelary Deity Fashion has thrown a shield so truly adamantine as to blunt the edge of Satire, and render the shafts of Irony pointless. Nor would the desire of sending my name “down the stream of time,” together with yours, have been Sufficient to have excited my literary ardour, had not your twentieth number engaged my attention, in a manner too strong to be resisted, by flattering my prejudices, confirming my opinions, and giving my own sentiments in better language than I could have expressed them. Mr. Edmund Escutcheon’s letter has, indeed, said all that reason can offer in defence of his and my favourite notions; give me leave, however, Mr. Loiterer, to speak practically on the subject; and, by inserting the following account of my life, make the world reluctantly own, that Faintly Pride has snatched at least one young man from the allurements of folly and dissipation, and added one good Citizen, Father, and Husband to this Country.
My Father was the descendent of a family who traced their origin to the Norman invasion, and actually possessed the Castle and demesne Lands which had been formally granted to His Ancestors by the Conqueror himself. The value of the surrounding estates scarce exceeded 1000l. a year, and was all that the havoc of confiscations and forfeitures had suffered to remain of property which once extended over the greatest part of one of our western Counties. This moderate Revenue, hitherto free from debts or mortgage, had been found sufficient to support the family in a respectable state of Independence. Our immediate Ancestors had all filled the office of Sheriff, were generally Chairmen at the Quarter Sessions, and sometimes Foremen of the Jury; delivered their opinion boldly at all public meetings, and were universally looked on as (if not the first at least) the most respectable people in the County. Long might we have continued in this state of respectability, and long might we have “killed our game on safe paternal grounds,” had my Father remained contented with being what his Father had been before him. But his genius could not stoop to so narrow a plan. He was determined to bring himself forward to the notice of the world, and contrary to the advice of his friends resolved to offer himself a Candidate for a Borough (which had once belonged to the family) at the next general Election.
I pass over, Mr Loiterer, the many head and heart-aches which this reso1t1tifl cost him, I will not enumerate the speeches he made, or the liquor he swa1loW1 on this occasion, and shall only say, that neither his eloquence or his beer were thrown away, and that he had the unspeakable honour of carrying the election by a considerable majority, against an Antagonist of much superior Fortune, but greatly beneath us in point of Family.
You must not imagine, Mr. Loiterer, that his triumph cost him nothing, on the contrary he might have said with King Pyrrhus, that such another Victory would have ruined him. But as he had probably never heard of King Pyrrhus, this idea gave him no uneasiness; and he cheerfully mortgaged his Estate to half its value, convinced that the lucrative posts that he was sure to obtain from the Minister, would abundantly make up the deficiency in his income. He was perhaps, for I do not assert it, as ignorant and as venal as any member who ever entered the House, and in consequence of a close attendance on committee, and a sure vote on the side of Government, obtained at the end of three years, a place, not indeed adequate to his wishes, but sufficient to encourage him in hoping for something better. As he now conceived himself a man of consequence, and of course obliged to keep nothing but the best, that is the most expensive company, he soon found his income, even with the addition of his place, by no means adequate to support him in his present style of life; and after a long struggle between Pride of Family and the Pride of Wealth, married the Daughter of an opulent Citizen, who thought the heard-earned Savings of a life of labour and self-denial, well laid out in purchasing a little better Blood for his Descendants.
This event obliged my Father to fix his residence entirely in the Capital, for my Mother (whose talent in spending money was at least as equal to her Father’s in saving it) was much too fine a Lady to exist out of London. Besides, his own business both in and out of the House, left him not many months at liberty; and as he was now certain of being brought in at every Election for some ministerial Borough, he gave himself no further trouble in keeping up his country connections. Sometimes, indeed, in the effusion of self-important Pride, he would talk of revisiting his native County, and occasionally amused his company with the improvements he intended to make in the Seat of his Ancestors; but the opposition of my Mother (who thought the money better spent in a trip to some Watering-place) constantly prevented the execution of a plan, in which he Was not perhaps very earnest; and from the time of my birth to the day of his death, he never quitted Town but to pass a few weeks at Brighton, or to spend the Christmas recess at the Villa of some of his political Friends. — As my Father and Mother now led a most fashionable life, they of course gave me a most fashionable education: Instead of being sent to one of the respectable public schools of this Kingdom, I was placed at a paltry seminary near London, where, except a little bad French and less Latin, I learned nothing but those petty acquirements, which in the opinion of many, are important enough to preclude the necessity of any kind of Learning, Information, or Taste. — From hence I was removed to a Military Academy on the Continent, there I learnt to perform my exercise and make the cotillion steps in the most correct and graceful manner, and was equally great at the morning’s Review and the evening’s petit Souper. — Being thus qualified alike to discharge the duties of a Soldier and a Citizen, I was recalled home to take possession of a pair of Colours in the Guards, which the interest of my father had procured for me, and two years after, on my coming of age, was by the same political connection made Member of the British Parliament. I was then at the age of twenty-one, and with a very small share of natural or acquired prudence, initiated at once into all the Dissipation of a luxurious Metropolis. My Duty as an Officer took up but a small share of my time, and (as some good friend was always ready to tell me when the question was to be put) I found the House a rather agreeable lounge, than a serious occupation. I had consequently time enough on my hands to do what I pleased with, and I accordingly passed it in company with a set of young Men as thoughtless and dissipated as myself; and as I never wanted Health, Spirits, or Money, and as I had acquired during my residence in France the great art of refining away the grosser parts of vicious pleasure, and covering voluptuousness with a veil of sentiment, I think I may fairly conclude I received all the j0yme11t which that species of life is capable of affording. In this delirium of fancied happiness, I was but little disturbed by the loss of my Father, who one day exerted himself so vehemently in defending an unpopular Tax against the clamour of opposition, that at his return home he was seized with an nflan1matory Fever, which soon carried him off. As the weakness of Conjugal or Paternal love were never felt by any of our family, and seldom heard of among our acquaintance, this event gave me much less sorrow than it would since have done; and after the first impression of grief was over, I returned to my usual occupations and my usual pleasures, and for some years afterwards my life passed away in the same circle of business without interest, and dissipation without amusement. From this course of life I was at length roused by a circumstance which I could no longer conceal, even from myself; the Fortune which my Mother brought, never equal to their state of living, was not likely to be improved by mine, and by the purchase of my Captain’s and Lieutenant- Colonel’s Commission was now reduced within the compass of a few hundreds. I was therefore under the necessity either of quitting the army and giving up my Town connections, or selling the small remainder of my paternal estate, the net income of which, after deducting the interest of the mortgage and the roguery of the Steward, was reduced to little more than three hundred a year. This latter expedient I resolved on without hesitation, for as I had no idea it was possible to live out of the gay world, and always looked on a Country Gentleman in a contemptible light, the idea of parting with my estate gave me but little uneasiness, and the only part of the business which seriously affected me, was the necessity i was under of leaving London in order to inspect the Title deeds, and settle some other matters previous to the Sale.
Nor let this be wondered at by those who are unacquainted with the strong influence, which early opinions and confirmed prejudices, will always have over the human mind. What my conduct was then, will be the conduct of all those Who have been prematurely introduced into a world, where the tender charms of domestic Society, and the sacred respect for the Paterni Lares, are held up as subjects for Laughter, and their possessors marked as objects of Ridicule.
[To be continued in our next.]
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