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Chesterfield calls “that poor, crazy, deformed body, a mere Pandora's box, containing all the physical ills that ever afflicted humanity.” It prompted reflections, however, of serious import to religious philosophy ; for if such a mind could be left untouched and unaffected in such a body, how different from body must mind be, and how independent of it !
A little closet, some six feet square, with a sort of bookcase of two shelves, which had been Pope's own, looked through a casement into a garden, which bordered three sides of the house, and which I next visited. It seemed, however, dedicated to Pomona rather than Flora, for by far the greater proportion was absorbed by culinary herbs and fruit trees, a few sunflowers and peonies being the chief of the ornamental tribe. Nevertheless, there was an air of content about it; and the housekeeper, a most neat and reverend lady, who shewed me the place, seemed to have all due respect for an arbour, and the identical bench and slate table within it, where she said the great poet, when he was only a little master, composed those beautiful pastorals, of which she supposed I had heard.
She then opened a drawer in the table, and displayed a copy of the original edition of them, for which she said her master would not take twenty pounds, as it was signed in his own hand-writing, by his name, Alexander Pope.
I honoured this classical zeal in her master, and asked who he was. She answered, Arthur Loveday, Esq., of Reading, a gentleman stricken in years, who had known Mr. Pope, and himself had made verses
too, though not so good, she supposed, as Mr. Pope's, who began so early.
Why they do say,” she observed, “ that he were but twelve years old when he wrote them lines.”
And she pointed to a tablet which I had not noticed, and which her master, Mr. Loveday, had fixed up over the bench in the alcove where the poet sat when he composed.
They were those charming little stanzas on solitude, (charming, with one exception), which had been my favourites, when, at his own age, I first read them, and I have continued to love them ever since ; not the less for the knowledge I have since had of things far different.
“Happy the man whose wish and care
In his own ground.
“ Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
In winter fire.
“ Blest who can unconcern’dly find
Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study and ease
“ Thus let me live, unseen, unknown,
Thus unlamented let me die,
Tell where I lie,”
Delighted to find these favourite lines in the very spot where they were composed, I read them aloud, and with such unction, that my conductress looked quite pleased, and said how pleased Muster Loveday would be to hear me.
“ And yet, to my fancy,” added she, “though some be pretty, some be not. I can't say as I should like to die and nobody care for me; or if they did, to have no tombstone for them to find me out.”
I quite agreed with this observation upon a wish and a sentiment which I think a drawback upon the philosophy of these otherwise philosophic lines and the lady agreed with me in thinking all the rest worthy the golden age. In fact, they gave me a fit of musing on the vanity of the pursuit of riches or the applause of the world. Is not content, thought I, the object of all our exertions ? and if this can be obtained without struggle, why should we plunge into it? And I repeated with still greater emphasis
“ Blest who can unconcern'dly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away.” To this I added the silliness of supposing happiness more enjoyed by the great and fashionable than the lowly-born ; and this musing lasted all the way back to the Royal Oak, where I was not sorry to join my contented friend, landlord, and yeomanpricker, in making a deep inroad into a fine round of beef, which contented me thoroughly, in appeasing the want then uppermost about me.
TION I THERE HEARD.-EVENT OF THE TRIALS OF
DR. FIREBRASS AND THE PEDLAR, AND THE FINAL
FATE OF THOSE PERSONAGES.
A plague upon it when thieves cannot be true to one another.
SHAKSPEARE.-1 Henry IV.
Our dinner, at which the landlord presided, sitting under a picture of George III., was, on this occasion, not in the kitchen, but a very decent room ; in fact, a sort of ordinary.
Now, an ordinary is the very thing for a young gentleman who wishes to see the world. Certainly, with this view, it is better than the eastern magnificence of eating alone; or, the next thing to it, a college hall, where you see the same hundred-timesseen phizzes, and listen, or pretend to listen, to the same hundred-times-told tales.
In a country town like Oakingham, an ordinary is peculiarly advantageous to a curious traveller, because not only other travellers congregate there, but the notables of the place often drop in, and, at a fixed
price, sit down to a plentiful and wholesome repast. Our contented landlord charged but eighteen-pence a head for his excellent viands, leaving his guests to settle the quantity, and therefore the expense of their liquor. This naturally attracted many of the townspeople to him, especially those who had no wives to attract them at home, and some who had.
On this day the meeting was unusually full. At its head were Mr. Simcox, the attorney, Mr. Smellome, the apothecary, and Mr. Sadwright, the bailiff of the place (for there was no mayor)—all topping men. These were all of the aristocracy of the town.
In a somewhat lower degree was a Mr. Smooth, a Dissenting schoolmaster, of very extreme principles, it was said, in all matters of government and legal rights, though he seldom spoke to the full extent of his opinions, and always in very submissive, oily language; so that the vicar applied to him the text,
66 His words were softer than butter, having war in his heart.” He had been a great favourer of the American cause (when at its height), and had been known to have declared, he thought it was a just one; nay, had illuminated his house on the acquittal of Admiral Keppel ; -all which got him little respect in the loyal town of Oakingham, and accounted for some cold looks even now on the part of his neighbours.
The landlord paid these guests of his all honour due, by assigning them the high places at the table ; and having gathered from me that I belonged to Maudlin College, Oxford, after introducing me in form, ranged me among them. Nor did my jacket