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sus, gives way to sorrow, and is bathed in tears of dis
But the most usual manner is this: Damon meets Manalcas, who has got a most gloomy countenance. The shepherd asks his friend, whence that look of distress? to which the other replies that Pollio is no more. If that be the case then, cries Damon, let us retire to yonder bower at some distance off, where the cypress and the jessamine add fragrance to the breeze; and let us weep alternately for Pollio, the friend of shepherds, and the patron of every muse. Ah, returns his fellow shepherd, what think you rather of that grotto by the fountain side ; the murmuring stream will help to assist our complaints, and a nightingale on a neighbouring tree will join her voice to the concert. When the place is thus settled, they begin: the brook stands still to hear their lamentations ; the cows forget to graze; and the very tygers start from the forest with sympathetic concern. tombs of our ancestors, my dear Fum, I am quite unaffected in all this distress : the whole is liquid laudanum to my spirits ; and a tyger of common sensibility has twenty times more tenderness than I.
But though I could never weep with the complaining shepherd, yet I am sometimes induced to pity the poet, whose trade is thus to make demigods and heroes for a dinner. There is not in nature a more dismal figure than a man who sits down to premeditated fattery ; every stanza he writes tacitly reproaches the meanness of his occupation till at last his stupidity becomes more stupid, and his dulness more diminutive.
I am amazed therefore that none have yet found out the secret of flattering the worthless, and yet of preserving a safe conscience. I have often wished for some method by which a man might do himself and
his deceased patron justice, without being under the hateful reproach of self-conviction. After long lucubration, I have hit upon such an expedient; and send you the specimen of a poem upon the decease of a great man, in which the flattery is perfectly fine, and yet the poet perfectly innocent.
is the most usual method in every report, first to examine its probability, and then act as the conjuncture may require. The English, however, exert a different spirit in such circumstances ; they first act, and when too late begin to exantine. From a knowledge of this disposition, there are several here who make it their business to frame new reports at every convenient interval, all tending to denounce ruin both on their contemporaries and their posterity. This denunciation is eagerly caught up by the public ; away they fling to propagate the distress; sell out at one place, buy in at another, grumble at their governors, shout in mobs, and when they have thus for some time behaved like fools, sit down coolly to argue and talk wisdom, to puzzle each other with syllogism, and prepare for the next report that prevails, which is always attended with the same success.
Thus are they ever rising above one report only to sink into another. They resemble a dog in a well pawing to get free. When he has raised his upper parts above water, and every spectator imagines him disengaged, his lower parts drag him down again and sink him to the nose; he makes new efforts to emerge, and every effort increasing his weakness, only tends sink him the deeper.
There are some here, who I am told, make a tolerable subsistence by the credulity of their countrymen: as they find the public fond of blood, wounds and death, they contrive political ruins suited to every month in the year : this month the people are to be eaten up by the French in flat-bottomed boats ; the hext by the soldiers, designed to beat the French back; now the people are going to jump down the gulph of luxury; and now nothing but an herring subscription can fish them up again. Time passes on; the
report proves false; new circumstances produce new changes, but the people never change, they are persevering in
In other countries those boding politicians would be left to fret over their own schemes alone, and grow splenetic without hopes of infecting others : but Eng. land seems to be the very region where spleen delights to dwell; a man not only can give an unbound
scope to the disorder in himself, but may if he pleases, propagate it over the whole kingdom, with a certainty of success. He has only to cry out, that the government, the government is all wrong, that their schemes are leading to ruin, that Britons are now no more ; every good member of the commonwealth thinks it his duty, in such a case, to deplore the universal decadence with sympathetic sorrow, and by fancying the constitution in a decay, absolutely to impair its vigour.
This people would laugh at my simplicity, should I advise them to be less sanguine in harbouring gloomy predictions, and examine coolly before they attempted to complain. I have just heard a story, which though transacted in a private family, serves very well to describe the behaviour of the whole nation, in cases of threatened calamity. As there are public, so there are private incendiaries here. One of the last, either for the amusement of his friends, or to divert a fit of the spleen, lately sent a threatening letter to a worthy family in my neighbourhood, to this effect.
“ Sir, Knowing you to be very rich, and finding “ myself to be very poor, I think proper to inform
you, that I have learned the secret of poisoning « man, woman, and child, without danger of detec65 tion. Do not be uneasy, Sir, you may take your “ choice of being poisoned in a fortnight, or poisoned - in a month, or poisoned in six weeks; you shall 66 hare full time to settle all your affairs. Though I “ am poor, I love to do things like a gentleman. But, “ Sir, you must die ; I have determined it within my “ own breast that you must die. Blood, Sir, blood “ is my trade ; so I could wish you would this day “ six weeks take leave of your friends, wife, and “ family, for I cannot possibly allow you longer "6 time.
To convince you more certainly of the “ power of my art, by which you may know I speak 66 truth, take this letter ; when you have read it, tear as off the seal, fold it up, and give it to your favourite " Dutch mastiff that sits by the fire ; he will swallow “ it, Sir, like a buttered toast ; in three hours four 5 minutes after he has taken it, he will attempt to « bite off his own tongue, and half an hour after burst * asunder in twenty pieces. Blood, blood, blood; so " no more at present from Sir, your most obedient, most 66 devoted humbie servant to command till death."
You may easily imagine the consternation into which this letter threw the whole good-natured family. The poor man, to whom it was addressed, was the more surprised, as not knowing how he could merit such inveterate malice. All the friends of the family were convened; it was universally agreed, that it was a most terrible affair, and that the government should be solicited to offer a reward and a pardon : a fellow of this kind would go on poisoning family after family; and it was impossible to say where the destruction would end. In pursuance of these determi