Imágenes de páginas

set down several ingenious sentences that I suddenly or accidentally recollected, and which, without my utmost vigilance, had been irrecoverably lost for ever; if they would consider with what incredible diligence I daily and nightly attended at those houses where persons of both sexes, and of the most distinguished merit, used to meet and display their talents; with what attention I listened to all their discourses, the better to retain them in my memory, and then, at proper seasons, withdrew, unobserved, to enter them in my tablebook, while the company little suspected what a noble work I had then in embryo : I say, if all these were known to the world, I think it would be no great presumption in me to expect, at a proper juncture, the public thanks of both houses of parliament, for the service and honour I have done to the whole nation by my single pen.

Although I have never been once charged with the least tincture of vanity, the reader will, I hope, give me leave to put an easy question : What is become of all the king of Sweden's victories? where are the fruits of them at this day or of what benefit will they be to posterity? Were not many of his greatest actions owing, at least in part, to fortune ; were not all of them owing to the valour of his troops, as much as to his own conduct? Could he have conquered the Polish king, or the czar of Muscovy, with his single arm? Far be it from me to envy or lessen the fame he has acquired; but, at the same time, I will venture to say, without breach of modesty, that I, who have alone, with this right hand, subdued barbarism, rudeness, and rusticity, who have established and fixed for ever the whole system of all true politeness and refinement in conversation, should think myself most inhu

manly treated by my countrymen, and would accordingly resent it as the highest indignity, to be put on a level, in point of fame, in after ages, with Charles the Twelfth, late king of Sweden.

And yet so incurable is the love of detraction, perhaps beyond what the charitable reader will easily believe, that I have been assured, by more than one credible person, how some of my enemies have industriously whispered about, that one Isaac Newton, an instrument-maker, formerly living near Leicester-fields, and afterwards a workman in the mint at the Tower, might possibly pretend to vie with me for fame in future times. The man, it seems, was knighted for making sundials better than others of his trade, and was thought to be a conjurer, because he knew how to draw lines and circles upon a slate, which nobody could understand. But adieu to all noble attempts for endless renown, if the ghost of an obscure mechanic shall be raised up to enter into competition with me, only for his skill'in making pot-hooks and hangers with a pencil; which many thousand accomplished gentlemen and ladies can perform as well with pen and ink upon a piece of paper, and in a manner as little intelligible as those of Sir Isaac.

My most ingenious friend already mentioned, Mr Colley Cibber, who does so much honour to the laurel crown he deservedly wears (as he has often done to many imperial diadems placed on his head) was pleased to tell me, that, if my treatise was shaped into a comedy, * the representation, performed to advantage on our theatre,

* The proposal here stated in jest actually took place; for Faulkner informs us, that the Treatise on Polite Conversation ben

might very much contribute to the spreading of polite conversation among all persons of distinction through the whole kingdom.

I own the thought was ingenious, and my friend's intention good : but I cannot agree to his proposal ; for Mr Cibber himself allowed that the subjects handled in my work being so numerous and extensive, it would be absolutely impossible for one, two, or even six comedies to contain them : Whence it will follow, that many admirable and essential rules for polite conversation must be omitted.

And here let me do justice to my friend Mr Tibbalds, who plainly confessed before Mr Cibber himself, that such a project, as it would be a great diminution to my honour, so it would intolerably mangle my scheme, and thereby destroy the principal end at which I aimed, to form a complete body or system of this most useful science in all its parts: And therefore Mr Tibbalds, whose judgment was never disputed, chose rather to fall in with my proposal, mentioned before, of erecting public schools and seminaries all over the kingdom, to instruct the young people of both sexes in this art, according to my rules, and in the method that I have laid down.

I shall conclude this long, but necessary introduction, with a request, or, indeed, rather a just and reasonable demand, from all lords, ladies, and gentlemen, that while they are entertaining and improving each other with those polite questions, answers, repartees, replies, and rejoinders, which I have, with infinite labour, and close application,

ing universally admired at Dubiin, was exhibited at the theatre in Angier Street as a dramatic performance, and received great applause.

ner :

during the space of thirty-six years, been collecting for their service and improvement, they shall, as an instance of gratitude, on every proper occasion, quote my name after this or the like man

“Madam, as our master Wagstaff says. “ My lord, as our friend Wagstaff has it.” I do likewise expect that all my pupils shall drink my health every day at dinner and supper during my life, and that they, or their posterity, shall continue the same ceremony to my not inglorious memory, after my decease, for ever.

« AnteriorContinuar »