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I would not, however, like many hasty philosophers, search after the cause till I am certain of the effect; and, therefore, I desire to be informed, whether you have yet heard the great name of Mr. Frolick. If he is celebrated by other tongues than his own, I shall willingly propagate his praise; but if he has swelled among us with empty boasts, and honours conferred only by himself, I shall treat him with rustick sincerity, and drive him as an impostor from this part of the kingdom to some region of more credulity.
No. LXII. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1750.
Nunc ego Triptolemj cuperem conscendere currus,
Misit in ignotam qui rude semen humum:
Quos habuit fugiens arva, Corinthe, tua;
Sive tuas, Perseu; Dædale, sive tuas. Ovid.
TO THE RAMBLER.
I AM a young woman of a very large fortune, which, if my parents would have been persuaded to comply with the rules and customs of the polite part of mankind, might long since have raised me to the highest honours of the female world; but so strangely have they hitherto contrived to waste my life, that I am now on the borders of twenty, withoạt having ever danced but at our monthly assembly, or been toasted but among a few gentlemen of the neighbourhood, or seen any company in which it was worth a wish to be distinguished.
My father having impaired his patrimony in soliciting a place at court, at last grew wise enough to cease his pursuit, and, to repair the consequences of expensive attendance and negligence of his affairs, married a lady much older than himself, who had lived in the fashionable world till she was considered
as an incumbrance upon parties of pleasure, and as I can collect from incidental informations, retired from gay assemblies just time enough to escape the mortification of universal neglect.
She was, however, still rich, and not yet wrinkled; my father was too distressfully embarrassed to think much on any thing but the means of extrication, and though it is not likely that he wanted the delicacy which polite conversation will always produce in understandings not remarkably defective, yet he was contented with a match, by which he might be set free from inconveniences, that would have destroyed all the pleasures of imagination, and taken from softness and beauty the power of delighting.
As they were both somewhat disgusted with their treatment in the world, and married, though without any dislike of each other, yet principally for the sake of setting themselves free from dependence on caprice or fashion, they soon retired into the country, and devoted their lives to rural business and diversions.
They had not much reason to regret the change of their situation; for their vanity, which had so long been tormented by neglect and disappointment, was here gratified with every honour that could be paid them. Their long familiarity with publick life made them the oracles of all those who aspired to intelligence or politeness. My father dictated politicks, my mother prescribed the mode, and it was sufficient to entitle any family to some consideration, that they were known to visit at Mrs. Courtly's.
In this state they were, to speak in the style of novelists, made happy by the birth of your correspon., dent. My parents had no other child, I was therefore not brow-beaten by a saucy brother, or lost in a mul
titude of coheiresses, whose fortunes being equal, would probably have conferred equal merit, and procured equal regard; and as my mother was now old, my understanding and my person had fair play, my inquiries were not checked, my advances towards imporțance were not repressed, and I was soon suffered to tell my own opinions, and early accustomed to hear my own praises.
By these accidental advantages I was much exalted above the young ladies with whom I conversed, and was treated by them with great deference. I saw none who did not seem to confess my superiority, and to be held in awe by the splendour of my appearance; for the fondness of my father made himself pleased to see me dressed, and my mother had no vanity nor expenses to hinder her from concurring with his inclinations.
Thus, Mr. Rambler, I lived without much desire after any thing beyond the circle of our visits; and here I should have quietly continued to portion out my time among my books, and my needle, and my company, had not my curiosity been every moment excited by the conversation of my parents, who, whenever they sit down to familiar prattle, and endeavour the entertainment of each other, immediately transport themselves to London, and relate some adventure in a hackney coach, some frolick at a masquerade, some conversation in the Park, or some quarrel at an assembly, display the magnificence of a birth-night, relate the conquests of maids of honour, or give a history of diversions, shows, and entertainments, which I had never known but from their accounts.
I am so well versed in the history of the gay world, that I can relate, with great punctuality, the lives of all the last race of wits and beauties; can enumerate, with exact chronology, the whole succession of celebrated singers, musicians, tragedians, comedians, and harlequins; can tell to the last twenty years all the changes of fashions; and am, indeed, a complete antiquary with respect to head-dresses, dances, and operas.
You will easily imagine, Mr. Rambler, that I could not hear these narratives, for sixteen years together, without suffering some impression, and wishing myself nearer to those places where every hour brings some new pleasure, and life is diversified with an unexhausted succession of felicity.
I indeed often asked my mother why she left a place which she recollected with so much delight, and why she did not visit London once a year, like some other ladies, and initiate me in the world by showing me its amusements, its grandeur, and its variety. But she always told me that the days which she had seen were such as will never come again; that all diversion is now degenerated, that the conversation of the present age is insipid, that their fashions are unbecoming, their customs absurd, and their morals corrupt; that there is no ray left of the genius which enlightened the times that she remembers; that no one who had seen, or heard, the ancient performers, would be able to bear the bunglers of this despicable age; and that there is now neither politeness, nor pleasure, nor virtue, in the world. She therefore assures me that she consults my happiness by keeping me at home, for I should now find nothing but vexation and disgust, and she should be ashamed to see me pleased with such fopperies and trifles, as take up the thoughts of the present set of young people.