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rise early in the morning; and remember the time when I grieved that the night came so soon upon me, and obliged me for a few hours to shut out affluence and prosperity. I now seldom see the rising sun, but to "tell him," with the fallen angel," how I hate his beams." I awake from sleep as to languor or imprisonment, and have no employment for the first hour but to consider by what art I shall rid myself of the second. I protract the breakfast as long as I can, because when it is ended I have no call for my attention, till I can with some degree of decency grow impatient for my dinner. If I could dine all my life, I should be happy. I eat not because I am hungry, but because I am idle. But, alas! the time quickly comes when I can eat no longer; and so ill does my constitution second my inclination, that I cannot bear strong liquors. Seven hours must then be endured before I shall sup; but supper comes at last, the more welcome as it is in a short time succeeded by sleep.
Such, Mr. Adventurer, is the happiness, the hope of which seduced me from the duties and pleasures of a mercantile life. I shall be told by those who read my narrative, that there are many means of innocent amusement, and many schemes of useful employment, which I do not appear ever to have known; and that nature and art have provided pleasures, by which, without the drudgery of settled business, the active may be engaged, the solitary soothed, and the social entertained.
These arts, sir, I have tried. When first I took possession of my estate, in conformity to the taste of my neighbours, I bought guns and nets, filled my kennel with dogs and my stable with horses; but a little experience showed me that these instruments of rural felicity would afford me few gratifications. I never shot but to miss the mark, and, to confess the
truth, was afraid of the fire of my own gun. I could discover no music in the cry of the dogs, nor could divest myself of pity for the animal whose peaceful and inoffensive life was sacrificed to our sport. I was not, indeed, always at leisure to reflect upon her danger; for my horse, who had been bred to the chase, did not always regard my choice either of speed or way, but leaped hedges and ditches at his own discretion, and hurried me along with the dogs, to the great diversion of my brother sportsmen. His eagerness of pursuit once incited him to swim a river; and I had leisure to resolve, in the water, that I would never hazard my life again for the destruction of a hare.
I then ordered books to be procured, and by the direction of the vicar had in a few weeks a closet elegantly furnished. You will perhaps he surprised when I shall tell you, that when once I had ranged them according to their sizes, and piled them up in regular gradations, I had received all the pleasure which they could give me. I am not able to excite in myself any curiosity after events which have been long passed, and in which I can therefore have no interest. I am utterly unconcerned to know whether Tully or Demosthenes excelled in oratory; whether Hannibal lost Italy by his own negligence or the corruption of his countrymen. I have no skill in controversial learning, nor can conceive why so many volumes should have been written upon questions which I have lived so long and so happily without understanding. I once resolved to go through the volumes relating to the office of justice of the peace, but found them so crabbed and intricate, that in less than a month I desisted in despair, and resolved to supply my deficiencies by paying a competent salary to a skilful clerk.
I am naturally inclined to hospitality, and for some time
kept up a constant intercourse of visits with the neighbouring gentlemen; but though they are easily brought about me by better wine than they can find at any other house, I am not much relieved by their conversation; they have no skill in commerce or the stocks, and I have no knowledge of the history of families or the factions of the country; so that when the first civilities are over, they usually talk to one another, and I am left alone in the midst of the company. Though I cannot drink myself, I am obliged to encourage the circulation of the glass; their mirth grows more turbulent and obstreperous; and before their merriment is at an end I am sick with disgust, and, perhaps, reproached with my sobriety, or by some sly insinuations insulted as a cit.
Such, Mr. Adventurer, is the life to which I am condemned by a foolish endeavour to be happy by imitation; such is the happiness to which I pleased myself with approaching, and which I considered as the chief end of my cares and my labours. I toiled year after year with cheerfulness, in expectation of the happy hour in which I might be idle. The privilege of idleness is attained, but has not brought with it the blessing of tranquillity.
I am, yours, etc.,
Ambitions of Authorship
IN former times, the pen, like the sword, was considered as consigned by nature to the hands of men. The ladies contented themselves with private virtues and domestic excellence; and a female writer, like a female warrior, was considered as a kind of eccentric being, that deviated, how
ever illustriously, from her due sphere of motion, and was therefore rather to be gazed at with wonder than countenanced by imitation. But as the times past are said to have been a nation of Amazons, who drew the bow and wielded the battle-axe, formed encampments and wasted nations; the revolution of years has now produced a generation of Amazons of the pen, who with the spirit of their predecessors have set masculine tyranny at defiance, asserted their claim to the regions of science, and seemed resolved to contest the usurpations of virility.
Some, indeed, there are of both sexes who are authors only in desire, but have not yet attained the power of executing their intentions; whose performances have not arrived at bulk sufficient to form a volume, or who have not the confidence, however impatient of nameless obscurity, to solicit openly the assistance of the printer. Among these are the innumerable correspondents of public papers, who are always offering assistance which no man will receive, and suggesting hints that are never taken, and who complain loudly of the perverseness and arrogance of authors, lament their insensibility of their own interest, and fill the coffee-houses with dark stories of performances by eminent hands, which have been offered and rejected.
To what cause this universal eagerness of writing can be properly ascribed I have not yet been able to discover. It is said that every art is propagated in proportion to the rewards conferred upon it; a position from which a stranger would naturally infer that literature was now blessed with patronage far transcending the candour or munificence of the Augustine age; that the road to greatness was open to none but authors, and that by writing alone riches and honour were to be obtained.
But since it is true that writers, like other competitors, are very little disposed to favour one another, it is not to be expected that at a time when every man writes, any man will patronize; and accordingly there is not one that I can recollect at present who professes the least regard for the votaries of science, invites the addresses of learned men, or seems to hope for reputation from any pen but his own.
The cause, therefore, of this epidemical conspiracy for the destruction of paper must remain a secret. Nor can I discover whether we owe it to the influences of the constellations, or to the intemperature of seasons; whether the long continuance of the wind at any single point, or intoxicating vapours exhaled from the earth, have turned our nobles and our peasants, our soldiers and traders, our men and women, all into wits, philosophers, and writers.
It is, indeed, of more importance to search out the cure than the cause of this intellectual malady; and he would deserve well of his country, who, instead of amusing himself with conjectural speculations, should find means of persuading the peer to inspect his steward's accounts, or repair the rural mansion of his ancestors; who could replace the tradesman behind his counter, and send back the farmer to the mattock and the flail.
General irregularities are known in time to remedy themselves. By the constitution of ancient Egypt, the priesthood was continually increasing, till at length there was no people besides themselves. The establishment was then dissolved, and the number of priests was reduced and limited. Thus, amongst us, writers will perhaps be multiplied till no readers will be found, and then the ambition of writing must necessarily cease.-" The Adventurer."