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happiness, is never more busy than in his hours of leisure, nor ever less solitary than in a place of solitude.
"I am, dear Frank, etc."
When he had sent away his letter he walked into the wood, with some inconvenience from the furze that pricked his legs and the briers that scratched his face. He at last sat down under a tree, and heard with great delight a shower, by which he was now wet, rattling among the branches. This, said he, is the true image of obscurity; we hear of troubles and commotions, but never feel them.
His amusement did not overpower the calls of nature, and he therefore went back to order his dinner. He knew that the country produces whatever is eaten or drunk, and, imagining that he was now at the source of luxury, resolved to indulge himself with dainties which he supposed might be procured at a price next to nothing, if any price at all was expected; and intended to amaze the rustics with his generosity, by paying more than they would ask. Of twenty dishes which he named, he was amazed to find that scarcely one was to be had; and heard, with astonishment and indignation, that all the fruits of the earth were sold at a higher price than in the streets of London.
His meal was short and sullen, and he retired again to his tree, to inquire how dearness could be consistent with abundance, or how fraud could be practised by simplicity. He was not satisfied with his own speculations, and, returning home early in the evening, went a while from window to window, and found that he wanted something to do.
He inquired for a newspaper, and was told that farmers never minded news, but that they could send for it from the ale-house. A messenger was despatched, who ran away at
full speed, but loitered an hour behind the hedges, and at last coming back with his feet purposely bemired, instead of expressing the gratitude which Mr. Shifter expected for the bounty of a shilling, said that the night was wet and the way dirty, and he hoped that his Worship would not think it much to give him half a crown.
Dick now went to bed with some abatement of his expectations; but sleep, I know not how, revives our hopes and rekindles our desires. He rose early in the morning, surveyed the landscape, and was pleased. He walked out, and passed from field to field, without observing any beaten path, and wondered that he had not seen the shepherdesses dancing, nor heard the swains piping to their flocks.
At last he saw some reapers and harvest-women at dinner. Here, said he, are the true Arcadians, and advanced courteously toward them, as afraid of confusing them by the dignity of his presence. They acknowledged his superiority by no other token than that of asking him for something to drink. He imagined that he had now purchased the privilege of discourse, and began to descend to familiar questions, endeavouring to accommodate his discourse to the grossness of rustic understandings. The clowns soon found that he did not know wheat from rye, and began to despise him; one of the boys, by pretending to show him a bird's nest, decoyed him into a ditch; and one of the wenches sold him a bargain.
This walk had given him no great pleasure; but he hoped to find other rustics less coarse of manners and less mischievous of disposition. Next morning he was accosted by an attorney, who told him that, unless he made Farmer Dobson satisfaction for trampling his grass, he had orders to indict him. Shifter was offended, but not terrified; and telling the
attorney that he was himself a lawyer, talked so volubly of pettifoggers and barraters, that he drove him away.
Finding his walks thus interrupted, he was inclined to ride, and being pleased with the appearance of a horse that was grazing in a neighbouring meadow, inquired the owner; who warranted him sound, and would not sell him but that he was too fine for a plain man. Dick paid down the price, and, riding out to enjoy the evening, fell with his new horse into a ditch. They got out with difficulty, and as he was going to mount again, a countryman looked at the horse and perceived him to be blind. Dick went to the seller and demanded back his money; but he was told that a man who rented his ground must do the best for himself; that his landlord had his rent though the year was barren; and that, whether horses had eyes or no, he should sell them to the highest bidder.
Shifter now began to be tired with rustic simplicity, and on the fifth day took possession again of his chambers, and bade farewell to the regions of calm content and placid meditation.-"The Idler."
On Lying News-Writers
No species of literary men has lately been so much multiplied as the writers of news. Not many years ago the nation was content with one gazette; but now we have not only in the metropolis papers for every morning and every evening, but almost every large town has its weekly historian, who regularly circulates his periodical intelligence, and fills the villages of his district with conjectures on the events of war, and with debates on the true interest of Europe.
To write news in its perfection requires such a combination
of qualities, that a man completely fitted for the task is not always to be found. In Sir Henry Wotton's jocular definition, "An ambassador is said to be a man of virtue sent abroad to tell lies for the advantage of his country; a newswriter is a man without virtue, who writes lies at home for his own profit." To these compositions is required neither genius nor knowledge, neither industry nor sprightliness; but contempt of shame and indifference to truth are absolutely necessary. He who by a long familiarity with infamy has obtained these qualities, may confidently tell to-day what he intends to contradict to-morrow; he may affirm fearlessly what he knows that he shall be obliged to recant, and may write letters from Amsterdam or Dresden to himself.
In a time of war the nation is always of one mind, eager to hear something good of themselves and ill of the enemy. At this time the task of news-writers is easy; they have nothing to do but to tell that a battle is expected, and afterward that a battle has been fought, in which we and our friends, whether conquering or conquered, did all, and our enemies did nothing.
Scarcely anything awakens attention like a tale of cruelty. The writer of news never fails in the intermission of action to tell how the enemies murdered children and ravished virgins; and, if the scene of action be somewhat distant, scalps half the inhabitants of a province.
Among the calamities of war may be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages. A peace will equally leave the warrior and relater of wars destitute of employment; and I know not whether more is to be dreaded from the streets filled with soldiers accustomed to plunder, or from garrets filled with scribblers accustomed to lie.-" The Idler."
The Style Terrific
THERE are men who seem to think nothing so much the characteristic of a genius as to do common things in an uncommon manner; like Hudibras, to tell the clock by algebra; or, like the lady in Dr. Young's satires, to drink tea by stratagem; to quit the beaten track only because it is known, and take a new path, however crooked or rough, because the straight was found out before.
Every man speaks and writes with intent to be understood; and it can seldom happen but he that understands himself might convey his notions to another, if, content to be understood, he did not seek to be admired. But when once he begins to contrive how his sentiments may be received, not with most ease to his reader, but with most advantage to himself, he then transfers his consideration from words to sounds, from sentences to periods, and, as he grows more elegant, becomes less intelligible.
It is difficult to enumerate every species of authors whose labours counteract themselves: the man of exuberance and copiousness, who diffuses every thought through so many diversities of expression, that it is lost like water in a mist; the ponderous dictator of sentences, whose notions are delivered in the lump, and are, like uncoined bullion, of more weight than use; the liberal illustrator, who shows by examples and comparisons what was clearly seen when it was first proposed; and the stately son of demonstration, who proves with mathematical formality what no man has yet pretended to doubt.
There is a mode of style for which I know not that the