« PreviousContinue »
possessed of so much cheerfulness and beauty, and hoped to transfer to himself the admiration so long bestowed on her, he urged the match, was accepted, and the ceremony took place. In the mean time, Segeia was almost unnoticed, and hundreds of her sister's acquaintance were ignorant of their connection. Nobody valued her smiles, for they procured no distinction, and none, of course, regarded her frowns. Instead of being deified, she was regarded as a mere woman. But here I must ask my reader's pardon; for, as there are now no women upon earth, (since it would be considered as a gross affront for any one but a clergyman to designate a female by that appellation,) I should rather have said, a mere mortal. She was of age before a burning kiss had been breathed upon her hand, and this attack upon the outworks of her heart was made by a man of the plainest appearance and understanding, and by profession a lawyer. This gentleman is one of much shrewdness, and of great acquaintance with the subjects of his own studies and avocations. He was unaffected, and even neglectful of trite ceremonies, for he accepted an invitation and undertook a cause with a look and manner which expressed an acknowledgment of a civility rather than of a favour. To make a long story short, he pleaded his own cause in this matter with the same ability, and with equal success, as had attended his pleadings on former occasions on behalf of others. For, although there was at first a demur, and he was vigorously opposed by Lymnira, yet, nevertheless, by a suitable perseverance in answers and rejoinders, he at length gained the plea.
Lymnira knew not how to sink down into a sober wife, (here again is a vulgarism,) the pleasures of
domestic life were insipid to her, and disgusting to her husband. Accustomed as she had been to almost unlimited attention, the slightest neglect, though unintentional, was construed into an insult; and finding to her mortification that her altar no longer blazed with the fragrant incense of unmeaning flattery, she grew languid and unhappy; and proportionally lost the attention even of him who had vowed perpetual attachment to her, but who had never expected to find in her any thing less than Elysium. With a profusion, therefore, as though they expected to survive only a few months, they both launched into every excess of fashionable expense. The natural consequence soon followed. The baronet became insolvent, and, with a cowardice equalled by his thoughtlessness, terminated his mortal existence by an act of suicide.
Segeia was an excellent wife, in all the latitude of that expression. She knew so well how to endear his house to him, that all her husband's happiness was confined to the circle of his family. There were no commands on one hand, and therefore no remonstrances on the other. They had never been extravagant in their professions of regard, and now each sought silently the other's happiness, and enjoyed the sweet satisfaction of mutual esteem and confidence. Both she and her sister are now no more, but the counsellor, who still lives, is now my particular friend. Almost every other night we spend an hour or two together in his chamber, conversing of little matters which interest no one but ourselves, and it was only last night that he told me he entertained serious thoughts of writing a paper for the Observer, with as few unnecessary words as possible.
No. 21.-January 18, 1814.
Memoria præteritorum laborum dulcis est.
How painful soever they may have been in the execution, yet the recollection of past labours conveys the most pleasing sensations to the mind, more especially if, during the course of such labours, it has been our care to act in a conscientious and honourable manner. Such is the sentiment of the soldier when he tells you of his wounds, of the sailor when he recounts the storms he has endured, and of the traveller when he repeats the story of his woes. And such is my sentiment at the present moment.
How little soever we may have esteemed an acquaintance during the time of his abode with us, yet to part with him, perhaps never to behold him again, must excite a degree of regret in every mind that is awake to the feelings of humanity. At such a time we forget his failings, and magnify his virtues, regret our own neglect toward him, and are ever anxious to part in peace. Some of those feelings will perhaps be excited in the breast of my readers, when I inform them that this is my last essay. It is usual, I know, in the concluding paper of a periodical work, to give an account of the assistance which has been received, and of the success which it has met with, and on some occasions to answer objections which have been raised against it.
As to the first of these particulars I can boast of very little. These lucubrations have been executed solely by my own exertions, nor am I conscious, in any case, of having borrowed either the language or the ideas of any writer, living or dead, without making a suitable
acknowledgment. On occasions when I had no other employment, I considered some subject in all its bearings and in its various relations, and selected from my observations such as I conceived to be most original, or most happily expressed. If I have not clearly illustrated those subjects on which I have treated, I have at least used my utmost endeavours so to do. How far I have been successful, I leave to the determination of others. If my ideas were familiar to my readers, they were at least new to myself. I have, on several occasions, advanced opinions perhaps somewhat peculiar to myself, but these I have delivered without arrogating to myself the right of decision, and have left others equally at liberty to use their own judgment. Several of these papers are written in a manner somewhat unconnected, but, according to the import of the title, my intention was to offer an assemblage of observations upon different subjects rather than a regular treatise. For the former I conceived myself qualified, but not so competent for the latter.
No author, ancient or modern, has had less encouragement than myself. Before the commencement of these essays I had made three attempts upon the public notice. The first was upon a great man, who requested my company. I waited upon his levee, and had one audience, but, not finding me so supple as he expected, he never again condescended to any other than a general notice of me; notwithstanding the trouble which he knew I had been at on his account. On inquiry, I found neglect had generally been the reward of ability when it was depressed by poverty, and yet asserted its independence. Although I did not flatter myself with false hopes, I was not as yet discouraged. My circumstances would not permit me to appear in
print, at my own expense, and accordingly I was under the necessity of contributing to some periodical work, as the only way by, which I could introduce myself to the public notice. I attempted this, but my communication was altogether neglected. I became humbler, but again tried what success I should have with a newspaper editor; but this provincial great man, for some cause or other, took no notice of my essai. The present effort has not been more successful than the preceding. It has never procured me the notice of any, nor has a single copy ever been disposed of, and for a very evident reason, because none have ever been printed.
To those who have no property of their own, and no means of acquiring it, there is still one mode of enjoyment left. If they cannot become rich in reality, they can at least be so in imagination. Besides, to a philanthropic mind, whatever it enjoys is its own, whoever may be the real possessor, and this imaginary owner has, besides, this advantage over the real one, that he does not experience those painful anxieties which large possessions bring along with them. I have endeavoured to apply these thoughts to myself. If I cannot appear in print, I can at least make a figure in manuscript; and, if the value of a work be estimated by its rarity, what a celebrity shall I not attain, since in all the world there is but one single copy of my essays. This mode of writing has, besides, many advantages. It begets no enemies, as it procures no praise. Success does not intoxicate, and failure does not depress. But, was there no latent wish for fame, no secret longings for notice, that prompted me to the undertaking? I have asked my heart, and it tells me there was none. Hail, ye unsullied sheets! ye unoffending essays! the