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dered, is a good and generous mafter. It is, indeed, too frequently mistaken as to the merits of every candidate for favour; but to make amends, it is never mistaken long. A performance, indeed, may be forced for a time into reputation, but deftitute of real merit, it soon finks; time, the touchftone of what is truly valuable, will foon discover the fraud, and an author fhould never arrogate to himself any fhare of fuccefs, till his works. have been read at least ten years with fatisfaction.
A man of letters at prefent, whofe works are valuable, is perfectly fenfible of their value. Every polite member of the community, by buying what he writes, contributes to reward him. The ridicule, therefore, of living in a garret, might have been wit in the last age, but continues fuch no longer, because no longer true. A writer of real merit now may easily be rich, if his heart be fet only on fortune: and for those who have no merit, it is but fit that fuch fhould remain in meritted obfcurity. He may now refuse an invitation to dinner, without fearing to incur his patron's displeasure, or to ftarve by remaining at home. He may now venture to appear in company with juft fuch clothes as other men generally wear, and talk even to princes, with all the conscious fuperiority of wifdom. Though he cannot boaft of fortune here, yet he can bravely affert the dignity of independence. Adieu.
FROM THE SAME.
I HAVE interested myfelf fo long in all the concerns
of this people, that I am almost become an Englishman ; I now begin to read with pleasure of their taking towns or gaining battles, and fecretly with disappointment to all the enemies of Britain. Yet ftill my regard to mankind fills me with concern for their contentions. I could wish to fee the disturbances of Europe once more amicably adjusted: I am an enemy to nothing in this good world but war; I hate fighting between rival states : I hate it between man and man; I hate fighting even between women!
I already informed you, that while Europe was at variance, we were also threatened from the ftage with an irreconcileable oppofition, and that our finging women were refolved to sing at each other to the end of the feafon. O my friend, those fears were juft. They are not only determined to fing at each other to the end of the season, but what is worse, to fing the fame fong, and what is ftill more infupportable, to make us pay for hearing.
If they be for war, for my part I should advise them to have a public congress, and there fairly squall at each other. What fignifies founding the trumpet of defiance at a distance, and calling in the town to fight their battles. I would have them come boldly into one of the moft open and frequented ftreets, face to face, and there try their skill in quavering.
However this may be, refolved I am that they shall not touch one fingle piece of filver more of mine. Though I have ears for music, thanks to Heaven, they are not altogether affes ears. What! Polly and the Pick-pocket to night, Polly and the Pick-pocket to-morrow night and Polly and the Pick-pocket again; I want patience. I'll hear no more. My foul is out of tune. All jarring difcord and confufion. Reft, reft, ye three dear clinking fhillings in my pocket's bottom, the mufic you make is more harmonious to my spirit, than catgut, rofin, or all the nightingales that ever chirped in petticoats.
But what raises my indignation to the greatest degree, is that this piping does not only pefter me on the ftage, but is my punishment in private converfation. What is it to me, whether the fine pipe of one, or the great manner of the other be preferable? What care I, if one has a better top, or the other a nobler bottom? How am I concerned, if one fings from the ftomach, or the other fings with a snap! yet paltry as these matters are, they make a subject of debate wherever I go; and this musical dispute, especially among the fair sex, almost always ends in a very unmufical altercation.
Sure the fpirit of contention is mixed with the very conftitution of the people; divifions among the inhabitants of other countries arife only from their higher concerns; but fubjects the most contemptible are made an affair of party here, the spirit is carried even into their amusements. The very ladies, whofe duty should seem to allay the impetuofity of the opposite sex, becom themselves party champions, engage in the thickest of the fight, fcold at each other, and fhew their courage, even at the expence of their lovers and their beauty.
There are even a numerous set of poets who help to keep up the contention, and write for the flage. Miftake me not, I do not mean pieces to be acted upon it, but panegyrical verfes on the performers; for that is the most univerfal method of writing for the stage at prefent. It is the bufinefs of the stage poet therefore, to watch the appearance of every new player at his own house, and fo come out next day with a flaunting copy of newspaper verses. In thefe, nature and the actor may be set to run races, the player always coming off victorious; or nature may mistake him for herself; or old Shakespeare may put on his winding fheet and pay him a vifit; or the tuneful Nine may ftrike up their harps in his praise; or should it happen to be an actress, Venus, the beauteous queen of love, and the naked graces are ever in waiting; the lady must be herself a goddess bred and born; she must-but you fhall have a specimen of one of these poems, which may convey a more precise idea.
On seeing Mrs. *** perform in the character
To you, bright fair, the Nine addrefs their lays,
Then first, at laft even Jove was taken in,
And yet, think not, my friend, that I have any particular animofity against the champions who are at the head of the present commotion; on the contrary, I could find pleasure in the mufic, if served up at proper intervals; if I heard it only on proper occafions, and not about it wherever I go. In fact, I could patronize them both; and as an inftance of my condescension in this particular, they may come and give me a fong at my lodgings on any evening when I am at leifure, provided they keep a becoming distance, and ftand while they continue to entertain me, with decent humility at the door.
You perceive I have not read the feventeen books of Chinefe ceremonies to no purpose. I know the proper share of respect due to every rank of fociety. Stageplayers, fire-eaters, finging-women, dancing dogs, wild beafts, and wire-walkers, as their efforts are exerted for our amusement, ought not entirely to be despised. The laws of every country fhould allow them to play their tricks at least with impunity. They should not be branded with the ignominious appellation of vagabonds; at least, they deserve a rank in fociety, equal to the myftery of barbers or undertakers; and could my influence extend fo far, they should be allowed to earn even forty or fifty pounds a-year, if eminent in their profeffion.
I am fenfible, however, that you will cenfure me of profusion in this respect, bred up as you are in the narrow prejudices of eastern frugality. You will undoubtedly affert, that such a ftipand is too great for so useless an employment. Yet, how will your surprise increase, when told, that though the law holds them as