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These, it is true, played the fool, like my friend Garrick, in jest only ; but several eminent characters have, in numberless instances of their lives, played the fool egregiously in earnest; so far as to render it a matter of some doubt whether their wisdom or folly was predominant; or whether they were better entitled to the applause or censure, the admiration or contempt, the love or hatred, of mankind. Those persons, indeed, who have passed any time behind the scenes of this great theatre, and are thoroughly acquainted not only with the several disguises which are there put on, but also with the fantastic and capricious behaviour of the Passions, who are the managers and directors of this theatre (for as to Reason, the patentee, he is known to be a very idle fellow, and seldom to exert himself), may most probably have learned to understand the famous nil admirari of Horace, or in the English phrase, to stare at nothing. - - A single bad act no more constitutes a villain in life, than a single bad part on the stage. The passions, like the managers of a playhouse, often force men upon parts, without consulting their judgement, and sometimes without any regard to their talents. Thus the man, as well as the player, may condemn what he himself acts; nay, it is common to see vice sit as awkwardly on some men, as the character of Iago would on the honest face of Mr. William Mills, -*. Upon the whole, then, the man of candour and of true understanding is never hasty to condemn. He can censure an imperfection, or even a vice, without rage against the guilty party. In a word, they are the same folly, the same childishness, the same ill-breeding, and the same ill-nature, which raise all the clamours and uproars both in life and on the stage. The worst of men generally have the words rogue and villain most in their mouths, as the
lowest of all wretches are the aptest to cry out low in the pit.
Containing a conversation which Mr. Jones had with himself.
J ONES received his effects from Mr. Allworthy's early in the morning, with the following answer to his letter:—
* I AM commanded by my uncle to acquaint you, ‘ that as he did not proceed to those measures he ‘had taken with you without the greatest delibera‘tion, and after the fullest evidence of your un‘ worthiness, so will it be always out of your power to cause the least alteration in his resolution. He expresses great surprise at your presumption in saying you have resigned all pretensions to a young lady, to whom it is impossible you should ever have had any, her birth and fortune having made her so infinitely your superior. Lastly, am commanded to tell you, that the only instance of your compliance with my uncle's inclinations which he requires, is, your immediately quitting this country. I cannot conclude this without offering you my advice, as a christian, that you would seriously think of amending your life. That you may be assisted with grace so to do, will be al‘ ways the prayer of
* Your humble servant,
Many contending passions were raised in our hero's mind by this letter; but the tender prevailed at last over the indignant and irascible, and a flood of tears came seasonably to his assistance, and possibly prevented his misfortunes from either turning his head, or bursting his heart. He grew, however, soon ashamed of indulging this remedy; and starting up, he cried, “Well, then, ‘I will give Mr. Allworthy the only instance he re* quires of my obedience. I will go this moment— ‘ but whither?—why let Fortune direct; since there “is no other who thinks it of any consequence what becomes of this wretched person, it shall be a matter of equal indifference to myself. Shall I alone regard what no other Ha! have I not reason to think there is another?—one whose value is above that of the whole world! — I may, I must imagine my Sophia is not indifferent to what becomes of me. Shall I then leave this only friend— and such a friend ? Shall I not stay with her?— Where—how can I stay with her? Have I any hopes of ever seeing her, though she was as desirous as myself, without exposing her to the wrath of her father ? and to what purpose? Can I think of soliciting such a creature to consent to her own ruin Shall I indulge any passion of mine at such a price? Shall I lurk about this country like a “thief, with such intentions 2 – No, I disdain, I de“test the thought. Farewell, Sophia; farewell, most “lovely, most beloved—" Here passion stopt his mouth, and found a vent at his eyes. And now, having taken a resolution to leave the country, he began to debate with himself whither he should go. The world, as Milton phrases it, lay all before him; and Jones, no more than Adam, had any man to whom he might resort for comfort or assistance. All his acquaintance were the acquaintance of Mr. Allworthy; and he had no reason to expect any countenance from them, as that gentleman had withdrawn his favour from him. Men of great and good characters should indeed be very cautious how they discard their dependents; for the
consequence to the unhappy sufferer is being discarded by all others. What course of life to pursue, or to what business to apply himself, was a second consideration: and here the prospect was all a melancholy void. Every profession, and every trade, required length of time, and what was worse, money; for matters are so constituted, that “nothing out of nothing’ is not a truer maxim in physics than in politics; and every iman who is greatly destitute of money, is on that account entirely excluded from all means of acquiring it. At last the Ocean, that hospitable friend to the wretched, opened her capacious arms to receive him; and he instantly resolved to accept her kind invitation. To express myself less figuratively, he determined to go to sea. This thought indeed no sooner suggested itself, than he eagerly embraced it; and having presently hired horses, he set out for Bristol to put it in execution. But before we attend him on this expedition, we' shall resort awhile to Mr. Western's, and see what further happened to the charming Sophia.
THE morning in which Mr. Jones departed, Mrs: Western summoned Sophia into her apartment; and having first acquainted her that she had obtained her liberty of her father, she proceeded to read her a long lecture on the subject of matrimony; which she treated not as a romantic scheme of happiness arising from love, as it hath been described by the
oets; nor did she mention any of those purposes #. which we are taught by divines to regard it as
instituted by sacred authority: she considered it rather as a fund in which prudent women deposit their fortunes to the best advantage, in order to receive a larger interest for them than they could have elsewhere. When Mrs. Western had finished, Sophia answered, “That she was very incapable of arguing ‘with a lady of her aunt's superior knowledge and ‘ experience, especially on a subject which she ‘had so very little considered, as this of matri‘mony.” ‘Argue with me, child !' replied the other; ‘I “do not indeed expect it. I should have seen the “world to very little purpose truly, if I am to argue ‘with one of your years. I have taken this trouble, ‘in order to instruct you. The ancient philoso‘phers, such as Socrates, Alcibiades, and others, did ‘ not use to argue with their scholars. You are to ‘consider me, child, as Socrates, not asking your ‘ opinion, but only informing you of mine.” From which last words the reader may possibly imagine, that this lady had read no more of the philosophy of Socrates, than she had of that of Alcibiades; and indeed we cannot resolve his curiosity as to this point. ‘Madam, cries Sophia, ‘I have never presumed ‘to controvert any opinion of yours; and this sub‘ject, as I said, I have never yet thought of, and ‘ perhaps never may.” “Indeed, Sophy, replied the aunt, “this dissimu“lation with me is very foolish. The French shalf ‘as soon persuade me that they take foreign towns “in defence only of their own country, as you can “impose on me to believe you have never yet thought ‘ seriously of o How can you, child, af. “fect to deny that you have considered of contract‘ing an alliance, when you so well know I am ac“quainted with the party with whom you desire to ‘contract it?—an alliance as unnatural, and con