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To try him, I said he ought to marry.
“Why, no,” said he, with some awkwardness of look ; “ there are many things which make that impossible.”
I asked what ? but all I could get from him was the trouble it would cost to court a woman proper
for him in the eye of the world; not to mention that the tyranny of a wife would be worse than that of a servant.
“ The one,” added he, with something resembling firmness, “ I may discharge."
“ If you dare, or have the power,” observed I, at which he reddened, and gave a deep sigh. “Come,” I continued, really feeling for his embarrassment, “ I see how it is ; you would rather bear the ills
you have, than fly to others which you know not of.”
“ Thank you, thank you,” said he ; “I believe that is the true secret. I can bear with these people, because, knowing that they are not my equals, I think I can assert myself when I please; but not so if I married a woman of family, who would always be standing on her rights, and would browbeat me out of my life, if only to assert them. Besides, I must own, what I dare say you have already discovered, that from being so early my own master in the world, I have indulged my constitutional indolence and indecision till I am unfit for it, or almost to live with any companions but those you see.”
To encourage him, I told him that he who knew his own disease so well had made the first step towards recovery.
He hesitated awhile, but then opening a drawer, he said,
“ Alas ! I fear recovery is hopeless, and you will probably say so too when you have perused this. I told you I had sometimes, in very want of other employment, undertaken a journal, which, from shame, I almost always destroyed as soon as written. This little record of only one month of my useless life is the only one that has escaped, and will prove to you how vain to me have been all the adventitious gifts of what men call good fortune, and how much the lowest menial of my house, while he perhaps envies my lot, might be himself the object of envy to his master.
At these words he put into my hands a small roll of paper. “I give it you,” said he, “as my mental case, and as, if it were a bodily one, I would give it my physician. But our minds, perhaps, want physicians even more than our bodies. I feel that
your presence here has already done me good.”
I thanked him for this confidence, and was proceeding to read, when, with his usual disposition to procrastinate, he said,
“ No; not now: by-and-by, if you please. To-night, to-morrow, or next day, will do quite as well. Besides, the post is just arrived with the daily and weekly papers; and—thanks to the confounded energies of the press—merely to read, much more to digest, requires no small consumption of time; but, in short, it is the only reading I venture upon."
“Well,” said I, rather anxious to peruse the journal, which I thought would interest my love of exploring character, “you shall not balk the fit while upon you; your arm-chair and desk, I see, court you, and while you settle the politics of Eu
“ I hate all the political part of a newspaper,” interrupted he, “and always skip it, or lay it by for a more convenient time.”
“ Which time,” said I, never comes.”
“ Not far wrong there,” replied he. « In truth, discussion bores me; the cloudiness of the times alarms me; the weakness of our governors does not assure me; and the scurrility of parties disgusts me.”
“ For heaven's sake, then," asked I, “ what part of a newspaper does occupy you?”
“0! a great deal of it,” answered he. “ The advertisements, all of which I ponder, not only amuse, but instruct me in all that is really going on in trade, the arts, literature, and science, better than all the most elaborate leading articles, which are generally false estimates of every thing, every man, and every transaction of life. Then there are the deaths, births, and marriages; and the police reports, which give a truer history of the animal called man than all the columns of all the patriots, economists, and political philosophers put together.”
“ I could not help smiling at this ingenuity of defence in excusing himself from every semblance of
exertion, even in reading a newspaper ; but wishing to examine what I thought would be a rich curiosity, his journal, without the restraint of his presence, I said I would retire with it to my own room, and leave him to investigate the increase or decrease of our population in the deaths and marriages, and the history of man in the records of Bow Street.
MISCHIEFS OF INDOLENCE.-DANGERS OF INTER
FERING IN OTHER PEOPLE'S AFFAIRS.
Is not this a strange fellow, my lord, that so confidently seems to undertake this business, which he knows is not to be done; damns himself to do, and dares better be damn'd than do't ?
SHAKSPEARE.-All's Well that Ends Well.
My own experience often makes me pity any sincere man who undertakes to record the operations of his own mind in its every day dress. For whatever the virtue or ability of the journalist, ten thousand to one, if he be honest, his pages will depict a great deal of weakness, a great deal of vanity, or a great deal of folly. What good did the historian of his own heart, or of his own actions, ever do, except amuse the world by making them laugh at him; or instruct them to avoid, by making them hate his faults ?
Do we want proofs of this ? Search the memoirs of Montpensier and Madame Roland, who are so good as to reveal their personal charms to the world; or Rousseau, who revealed all his vices; or Laud, who revealed his secret superstition; or Doddington, who seemed to boast of his venality; or Watson, or Cumberland, or Gilbert Wakefield, who, gifted with learn