L O I T E R E R.
"Speak of us as we are."
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR;
And sold by Messrs. PRINCE and COOKE, OXFORD;
Messr. EGERTONS, Whitehall, LONDON; Messrs. PEARSON
And POLLASON, BIRMINGHAM; Mr. W. MEYLER, Grove,
BATH; AND Messrs. COWSLADE and SMART, READING.
L O I T E R E R.
SATURDAY, December 26, 1789.
Continued from our last.
The further I advanced on my journey, the clearer was my perception of the dangers I had encountered, and the greater my self–congratulation at so seasonable an escape. Not but that reflections of this sort were now and then crossed by the remembrance of my own infatuation, and credulity; for whenever I attempted to trace the progress of my error, and to recount the sum of her attractions, it could not but increase my astonishment at having so long been charmed by so weak a spell. Such inward examinations however, were not without their good effect; for from this moment may I date the rise of those sentiments which have both pointed out, and secured to me my present happiness; from this critical moment have I learned to discover the approaches, and detect the impostures of sentimental Hypocrisy; and have ever since believed and experienced, that durable Contentment is equally removed from the Enthusiasm of Romance, and the Sophistry of Platonism. –– But to pursue my narrative. –– As I slowly descended the Alps, I found my heart dilate with an ardour easier to be imagined than expressed –– I was approaching the sacred Spring of Poetry and Science; was each moment entering on Classic Soil, and looked for a Mantua in the spires of every distant city. –– Alas! the lazy, and penurious air of the inhabitants but too soon told me, that Genius and Energy had long since fled to other climates; and the very magnificence of the ruins, which presented themselves on every side, whilst it strained my ideas of ancient Rome to sublimity, sunk modern Italy beneath regard. The whole nation exhibited one melancholy proof of that intimate connection which subsists between political and mental vigour; they were fallen, as they rose, together; and that posterity, which dared not to imitate the patriotism of a Cato, and the prowess of a Cæsar, shall never boast a second Tully, or another Virgil. If I entered Italy with inconsiderate rapture, I left it with settled contempt; and though in Germany, I expected to see neither breathing canvas, or living marble; I thought myself certain of finding the originals undebauched by luxury, and unshackled by superstition. "I shall find at least," exclaimed I, "a race of hardy Warriors, and profound Politicians." Opinions drawn from comparison are frequently fallacious, and I soon found that the country I was entering had little cause to boast of superiority over the one I had left behind. The earth was wasted by war, the Peasants oppressed by partial taxes, and Society contracted by the Pride of Individuals, or controuled by the suspicion of a Despot. The policy of Government wa inimical alike to the affluence, the freedom, and the security of the subject. –– A number of petty Principalities checked each others growth, and blasted the general prosperity. For which reason, the object of each separate state seemed to be not so much to encrease its own authority as to lessen that of its neighbor, on this single principle, that the power which is totally unequal to aggrandize itself, may still be sufficient to impede the rise of others. Equally disgusted with elegance, degenerate taste, and sinister policy, I hurried back to my native country, I hope a wiser man; I am sure, a better citizen; as one effect of my travels was the being able to draw an advantageous comparison in favour of that land in which I rejoiced to have been born, and where I hoped to die. –– But chiefly was I delighted by the striking superiority which our Women possess both in beauty and manners over those of other nations –– an assertion to which all will subscribe who prefer the language of nature and simplicity, to the allurements of capricious coquetry, or dauntless invitation. There are some, I know, who affect to discover bashfulness and rusticity in every English woman, and who exist but in the society of those females who will accept of impudence for ease, and infidelity for spirit. To all such people do I wish, as the properest punishment, the attainment of their own desires, since experience best will teach them, that she who does not court the esteem of her Lover, will soon neglect the honour of her Husband. With a heart so prejudiced in favor of my fair country women, it was very natural for me soon to attach myself to one of them. A marriage which built its prospect of happiness more on equality of temper, and conviction of mutual worth, than romantic affection, could not well be an unfortunate one: in the present instance I am sure that circumspection has been abundantly recompensed by its consequence, contentment. Ease and tranquility have seldom been strangers to my family, and I have glided down the stream of life, equally removed from the disappointment which usually attends enthusiastic Love, or the apathy which too often accompanies the wearisome round of domestic occupations. –– It is true, that the parent, whose affection had first procured me the advantages of a elegant education at home, and afterwards added that of an extensive knowledge of countries abroad, was not a little eager to see me become a member of that House, a seat in which he had ever looked upon as the properest field for exertion; and where merit, if there were any, was sure of being rewarded. But the very means which he took to qualify me for that honour, were the cause of my refusing it. Having been so long used by continual travel to consider myself merely a spectator in the Region of Politics, I could not without lessening my imagined independence resign the character of a Citizen of the World, or withdraw my efforts from the service of all mankind to concenter them in the interests of a Faction. For as to parliamentary neutrality, my own heart but too well informed me, that where I loved the man, I could never have condemned his measures. Yet though averse to a public life, I was resolved not to live an idle one; being perfectly convinced, that he who does nothing, does ill. –– There is but one profession in which ease ceases to be idle, and retirement inactive. In the service of Religion, it is not impossible to be disengaged from the hurry of the world, and yet busied in promoting its welfare. It is now twenty–five years since I took Orders, not I flatter myself because I was found fit for nothing else, but because I thought nothing could so well fix me in the practice of my own duties as the frequent enculcating theirs to others. From the external gifts of Fortune too, if I gain some addition to my happiness, I may also derive some security of my virtue; for my income, though sufficient with common economy to supply all the comforts of life, is fortunately still so contracted as to deny the indulgence of any superfluity. Thus neither distressed by the probability of want, or elated by the security of affluence, I have no inducement to augment my possessions by sordid parsimony, or squander them in criminal excess.
In addition to the affection of my Matilda, and the discharge of my profession, I have other ties which endear me to life, and other gifts which demand my gratitude to Heaven. –– I am an old man, Mr. Loiterer; perhaps when I speak of my children a weak one; and yet I think, that "all my sons are noble, and all my daughters virtuous." May the latter imitate their mother; and, as the education of the former is my peculiar province, so shall it be my peculiar care. –– They shall be consecrated to the service of their country. If I can effect it, they shall be dauntless soldiers, and peaceful citizens. This at least they shall not be; the abetters of licentious fashion, or the victims of vicious refinement. How far this long story of myself, Sir, should you think it worth the publishing, may be either entertaining or useful to your readers, is not for me to determine; and were I to be instantly transported to the Palais de Veritè , and there made to explain the motives which induced me to write this letter, I might perhaps be brought to confess, that the love of hearing myself talk, even if it be but by proxy, has made me thus generous of precept, and prodigal of advice. But a genuine confession of every single motive where many co–operate is not always prudent, or necessary; and however self love may have made me arrogant, or prolix, I both hope and think, Mr. Loiterer, that I had some other and better motive for taking up so much of you time. I wished from my own feelings, and by my own example, to persuade all those whose prospects of life are yet opening, and whose happiness or misery is not absolutely determined, that they would be more likely to conduct their future life with prudence and virtue, by accepting the certainty of moderate contentment, than by pursuing the shadowy form of exquisite bliss, at the risqué of experiencing exquisite misery.
I am, dear Sir, your's, &c. &c.
N.B. This Work will in future be sold by Messrs. Prince and Cooke; to whom our Correspondents are requested to direct their communications.
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