their clouds, and the stream of life, if it is not ruffled by obstructions, will grow putrid by stagnation.

My father resolving not to imitate the folly of his ancestors, who had hitherto left the younger fons encumbrances on the eldest, destined me to a lucrative profession; and I being careful to lose no opportunity of improvement, was, at the usual time in which young men enter the world, well qualified for the exercise of the businefs which I had chosen.

My eagerness to distinguish myself in publick, and my impatience of the narrow scheme of life to which my indigence confined me, did not fuffer me to continue long in the town where I was born. I went away as from a place of confinement, with a resolution to return no more, till I should be able to dazzle with my fplendour those who now looked upon me with contempt, to reward those who had paid honours to my dawning merit, and to show all who had suffered me to glide by them unknown and neglected, how much they mistook their interest in omitting to propitiate a genius like mine.

Such were my intentions when I fallied forth into the unknown world, in quest of riches and honours, which I expected to procure in a very short time; for what could withhold them from industry and knowledge ? He that indulges hope will always be disappointed. Reputation I very soon obtained ; but as merit is much more cheaply acknowledged than rewarded, I did not find myself yet enriched in proportion to my celebrity.

I had however in time surmounted the obstacles by which envy and competition obstruct the first at


tempts of a new claimant, and saw my opponents and censurers tacitly confessing their despair of suca, cess, by courting my friendship and yielding to my influence. They who once pursued me, were now Latisfied to escape from me; and they who had before thought me presumptuous in hoping to overtake them, had now their utmost wish, if they were permitted at no great distance quietly to follow.


My wants were not madly multiplied as my acquisitions increased, and the time came at length, when I thought myself enabled to gratify all reasonable desires, and when, therefore, I resolved to enjoy that plenty and serenity which I had been hitherto labouring to procure, to enjoy them while I was yet neither crushed by age into infirmity, nor so habituated to a particular manner of life as to be unqualified for new studies or entertainments.

I now quitted my profession, and to set myself at once free from all importunities to resume it, changed my residence, and devoted the remaining part of my time to quiet and amusement. Amidst innumerable projects of pleasure which restless idleness incited me to fotm, and of which most, when they came to the moment of execution, were rejected for others of no longer continuance, some accident revived in my imagination the pleasing ideas of my native place. It was now in my power to visit those from whom I had been so long absent, in such a manner as was consistent with my former resolution, and I wondered how it could happen that I had so long delayed my own happiness.


[ocr errors]

L 3

Full of the admiration which I should excite, and. the homage which I should receive, I dressed my fervants in a more oftentatious livery, purchased a magnificent chariot, and resolved to dazzle the inhabitants of the little town with an unexpected blaze of greatness.

While the preparations that vanity required were made for my departure, which, as workmen will not easily be hurried beyond their ordinary rate, I thought very tedious, I folaced my impatience with imaging the various censures that my appearance would produce, the hopes which some would feel from my bounty, the terror which my power would strike on others; the awkward respect with which I should be accosted by timorous officiousness; and the distant reverence with which others, less familiar to fplendour and dignity, would be contented to gaze upon me. I deliberated a long time, whether I should immediately descend to a level with my former acquaintances, or make my condescension more grateful by a gentle transition from haughtiness and reserve. At length I determined to forget some of my companions, till they discovered themselves by some indubitable token, and to receive the congratulations of others upon my good fortune with indifference, to show that I always expected what I had now ob. tained. The acclamations of the populace I purposed to reward with six hogsheads of ale, and a roasted ox, and then recommend to them to return to their work,

At last all the trappings of grandeur were fitted, and I began the journey of triumph, which I could



have wished to have ended in the fame moment; but

horses felt none of their master's ardour, and I was shaken four days upon rugged roads. I then. entered the town, and having graciously let fall the glasses, that my person might be seen, passed Nowly through the street. The noise of the wheels brought the inhabitants to their doors, but I could not perceive that I was known by them. At last.I alighted, and my name, I suppose, was told by my servants, for the barber stept from the opposite house, and seized me by the hand with honest joy in his countenance, which, according to the rule that I had prescribed to myself, I repressed with a frigid graciousness. The fellow, instead of sinking into dejection, turned away with contempt, and left me to consider how the second salutation should be received. The next friend was better treated, for I foon found that I must purchase by civility that regard which I had expected to enforce by insolence.

There was yet no smoke of bonfires, no harmony of bells, no shout of crowds, nor riot of joy; the business of the day went forward as before; and after having ordered a splendid supper, which no inan came to partake, and which my chagrin hindered me from tasting, I went to bed, where the vexation of disappointment overpowered the fatigue of my journey, and kept me from sleep.

I rose so much humbled by those mortifications, as to inquire after the present state of the town, and found that I had been absent too long to obtain the triumph which had flattered my expectation, Of the friends whose compliments I expected, fome had long ago moved to distant provinces, fome had lost

in the maladies of age all sense of another's profperity, and some had forgotten our former intimacy amidst care and distreffes. Of three whom I had resolved to punish for their former offences by a longer continuance of neglect, one was, by his own industry, raised above my scorn, and two were sheltered from it in the grave. All those whom I loved, feared, or hated, all whose envy or whose kindness I had hopes of contemplating with pleasure, were swept away, and their place was filled by a new generation with other views and other competitions; and among many proofs of the impotence of wealth, I found that it conferred upon me very few distinctions in my

native place.

I am, SIR, &c.


« VorigeDoorgaan »