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Our house, which it was once my highest pleasuit to keep in order, it would be now equally vain to attempt cleaning as the ark of Noah. The children's bed is supplied by an Indian canoe ; and the poor little creatures sleep three of them in a hammock, slung up to the roof between a stuffed crocodile and the skeleton of a calf with two heads. Even the commodities of our shop have been turned out to make room for trash and vermin. Kites, owls, and bats, are perched upon the top of our shelves; and it was but yesterday, that, putting my hand into a glass jar that used to contain pickles, I laid hold of a large tarantula in place of a mangoe.
In the bitterness of my soul, Mr. MIRROR, I have heen often tempted to revenge myself on the objects of my husband's phrenzy, by burning, smashing, and destroying them without mercy; but, besides that such violent procedure might have effects too dreadful upon a brain which, I fear, is already much unsettled, I could not take such a course, without being guilty of a fraud to our creditors, several of whom will, I believe, sooner or later, find it their only means of reimbursement, to take back each man his own monsters.
Meantime, Sir, as my husband constantly peruses your paper, (one instance of his taste which I cannot object to,) I have some small hopes that a good effect may be produced by giving him a fair view of himself in your moral looking-glass. If such should be the happy consequence of your publishing this letter, you shall have the sincerest thanks of a grateful heart, from your now disconsolate humble ser
I cannot help expressing my suspicion that Mrs. Rebecca Prune has got somebody to write her letter.
If she wrote it herself, I am afraid it may be thought that the grocer's wife, who is so knowing in what she describes, and can joke so learnedly on her spouse's ignorance of the three Alexanders, has not much reason to complain of her husband being a man of taste.
Her case, however, is truly distressful, and in the particular species of her husband's disorder, rather uncommon. The taste of a man in his station generally looks for some reputation from his neighbours and the world, and walks out of doors to shew itself to both.
I remember, a good many years ago, to have visited the villa of a citizen of Bath, who had made a considerable fortune by the profession of a toyman in that city. It was curious to observe how much he had carried the ideas of his trade into his house and grounds, if such might be called a kind of Gothic building, of about 18 feet by 12, and an inclosure, somewhat short of an acre. The first had only a few closets within; but it made a most gallant and warlike shew without. It had turrets about the size of the king at nine pins, and battlements like the sidecrust of a Christmas goose-pye. To complete the appearance of a castle, we entered by a drawbridge, which in construction and dimensions, exactly resembled the lid of a travelling-trunk. To the right of the house was a puddle, which, however, was dignified with the name of a harbour, defended by twoʻredoubts, under cover of which lay a vessel of the size of an ordinary bathing-tub, mounting a parcel of old toothpike-cases, fitted up into guns, and manned with some of the toyman's little family of plaything figures, with red jackets and striped trowsers, whom he had impressed into the service. The place where this vessel lay, a fat little man, whom I had met on the shore, who seemed an intimate acquaintance of the proprietor, informed me was called Spithead, and the ship's name, he told me, pointing to the picture on her stern, was the Victory.
This gentleman afterwards conducted me, not without some fear, across a Chinese bridge, to a pagoda, in which it was necessary to assume the pos. ture of devotion, as there was not room to stand upright. On the sides of the great serpentine walk, as he termed it, by which we returned from this edifice, I found a device, which my Cicerone looked upon as a master-stroke of genius. The ground was shaped into the figures of the different suits of cards ; so that here was the heart walk, the diamond walk, the club walk, and the spade walk; the last of which had the additional advantage of being sure to produce a pun. On my observing how pleasant and ingenious all this was, my conductor answered, " Ay, ay, let him • alone for that; he has given them a little of every • thing, you see : and so he may, Sir, for he can • very well afford it.'
I believe we must rest the matter here. In this land of freedom there is no restraining the liberty of being ridiculous ; I would only entreat Mr. Prune, and indeed many of his betters, to have some regard for their wives and families, and not to make fools of themselves, till, like the Bath toyman, they can very well afford it.
N° 18. SATURDAY, MARCH 27, 1779.
Laudabunt alii claram Rbodan aut Mytelenen.
HOR. NOTHING is more amusing to a traveller, than to observe the different characters of the inhabitants of the countries through which he passes; and to find, upon crossing a river or a mountain, as marked a difference in the manners, the sentiments and the opinions of the people, as in their appearance, their dress, or their language. Thus, the easy vivacity of the French, is as opposite to the dignified gravity of the Spaniard on the one hand, as it is to the phlegmatic dulness of the German on the other. But, though all allow that every nation has some striking feature, some distinguishing characteristic, philosophers are not agreed as to the causes of that distinction. Montesquieu has exerted all the powers of his genius to prove, that difference of climate is the chief, or the only cause of the difference of national characters; and it is not surprising that the opinion of so great a man should have gained much ground. None of his followers has carried the matter farther than the author of Recherches Philosophiques sur les Americains, whose chief object seems to have been to shew, that the climate of America is of such a nature, that, from its baneful influence, even the human species has degenerated in that quarter of the globe.
I must confess, however, that I have often doubt. ed as to the justness of this opinion ; and, though
I do not mean to deny that climate has an influence on man, as well as on other animals, I cannot help thinking that Montesquieu, and the writers who have adopted his system, have attributed by far too much to it.
It must be allowed that man is less affected by the influence of climate than any other animal. But of all the human race, an American savage seems to approach the nearest, in the general condition of his life, to the brute creation, and, of consequence, ought to be most subject to the power of climate. And yet, if we compare an Indian with an European peasant or manufacturer, we shall be apt to think, that the former, considered as an individual, holds a higher rank in the scale of being than the latter.
The savage, quitting his cabin, goes to the assembly of his tribe, and their delivers his sentiments on the affairs of his little nation with a spirit, a force, and an energy, that might do honour to an European orator. Thence he goes to make war upon his foes; and, in the field, discovers a sagacity in his strata. gems, a boldness in his designs, a perseverance in his operations, joined with a patience of fatigue and of suffering, that have long been objects of admiration, and which filled the inhabitants of the Old World, when they first beheld them, with wonder and astonishment. How superior such a being to one occupied, day after day, in turning the head of a pits, or forming the shape of a button, and possessing not one idea beyond the business in which he is immedia ately employed !
It may perhaps he objected, that no fair compari. son can be made where the state of society is so different, the necessary effect of civilization being to introduce a distinction of ranks, and to sink the lower orders of men far beneath that station to which by nature they are entitled. But allowing this ob.