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ease in a crimson velvet chair, rest my elbow on the polished surface of a mahogany table, write my essays upon gilt paper, and dip my pen into a silver
Indeed, though I have taken upon me the title of Connoisseur, I shall not presume to boast, that I am possessed of a museum, like Sloane's, or a library equal to Mead's. But as Pliny, and after him our countryman Mr. Pope, have left us a description of their elegant villas, I hope it will not be thought arrogance in me, after what I have said, if I set before the reader an account of my own study. This is a little edifice situated at some distance from the rest of the house, for the sake of privacy and retirement. It is an ancient pile of building, and hangs over a small rivulet; and as the entrance into it is shaded by a thick hedge of ever-greens, which cast a kind of awful gloom about it, some learned antiquarians have been led to conjecture, that it was formerly a temple, or rather a chapel of ease, dedicated to one of the heathen goddesses. This goddess, they inform me, was worshipped by the Romans, and was probably held in no less veneration by the Egyptians, Chaldees, Syrians, and other nations. However, this be, the walls on the inside are decorated with various inscriptions alluding to the religious rites performed there, and hung round with the rude rhymes of ancient bards.
To this study I retire constantly every morning after breakfast, and at other parts of the day, as occasion calls. Here I am at liberty to indulge my meditations uninterrupted, as I suffer no one to break in upon my privacy and (what will perhaps surprise my readers,) I find in myself the greatest inclination to visit it after an hearty meal. In this place I made a Very rapid progress in literature, and have gone thro❜ Several very learned volumes, which otherwise I should never have looked into. I have here travelled
leaf by leaf through the works of many worthy, but neglected, ancient divines, critics, and politicians; and have turned over many a modern pamphlet or poem with equal satisfaction. I must not forget to mention, that (like the scrupulous Mahometans) I have often picked up the fragments of several learned writers, which have come from the chandlers, and lodged them among others no less valuable, in my study.
I may safely boast, that I am indebted for many of my best thoughts in the course of these papers, to the reflections I have had the leisure to make in this study; which probably has the same influence on my mind, as the stewed prunes had upon Bayes, which he tells us, he always took when he wrote. But if my study serves to inspire me sometimes with agreeable ideas, it never fails on the other hand to remind me of the mortality of writers; as it affords repeated proofs, that we may justly say of our works, as well as of ourselves.
Serius aut citius sedem properamus ad unam. OVID.
O lamentable chance! to one vile seat,
No. LXXXIX. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9.
Lugete, O veneres Cupidinesque,
Et quontum est hominum venustiorum!
Weep, ye belles, ye beaux deplore!
GOING the other day to visit Mrs. Penelope Doat, after I had waited some time in the parlour, the maid returned with her mistress's compliments, and informed me, that as she was extremely busy, she begged to be excused coming down to me, but that she would be very glad to see me in the nursery. As I knew she was a maiden lady, I was a good deal startled at the message; but, however, I followed the servant upstairs to her mistress; whom I found combing a little spotted dog that laid in her lap, with a grey parrot perched on one arm of the settee where she sat, a monkey on the back, and a tabby cat with half a dozen kittens on the other corner of it. The whole room, which was a very large one, was indeed a nursery for all kinds of animals, except those of the human species. It was hung every where with cages, containing parrots, mackaws, Canary birds, nightingales, linnets, and goldfinches; on the chairs were several cats reposing on soft cushions; and there were little kennels in the Chinese taste, in almost every corner of the room, filled with pugs, fidos, and king Charles's breed As soon as the chattering of the birds, the barking of the dogs, and the mewing of
the cats, which my entrance occasioned, began to cease...." You find me here, Sir, said the lady, tend"ing my little family, the only joy of my life. Here " is a dear pretty creature! (holding up the dog she "was combing) a beauty! what a fine long-eared "snub-nosed beauty! Lady Faddle advertised three "quarters of a year, and could not get the fellow to "it. Ah, bless it, and love it, sweet soul !"......And then she stroked it and kissed it for near two minutes, uttering the whole time all those inarticulate sounds, which cannot be committed to paper, and which are only addressed to dogs, cats, and children, and may be styled the language of the nursery. Upon observing me smile at the embraces she bestowed on her little motley darling, " I am afraid (said she) you do "not love these pretty creatures. How can you be so "cruel? Poor dumb things! I would not have them "hurt for all the world. Nor do I see why a lady "should not indulge herself in having such sweet
little company about her, as well as you men run "out estates in keeping a pack of filthy hounds." Then she laid Pompey on his cushion by the fire-side; and railed at the barbarity of the human species to the rest of the creation, and entered into a long dissertation on tenderness and humanity.
An humane disposition is indeed so amiable, either in man or woman, that it ought always to be cherished and kept alive in our bosoms; but at the same time we should be cautious not to render the first virtue of our nature ridiculous. The most compassionate temper may be sufficiently gratified by relieving the wretches of our own species: but who would ever boast of their generosity to a lap-dog, and their conferring eternal obligations on a monkey; or would any lady deserve to be celebrated for her charity, who should deny support to a relation or a friend, because she maintains a litter of kittens? For my part, before
I would treat a Dutch puppy with such absurd fondness, I must be brought to worship dogs, as the Egyptians did of old; and ere I would so extravagantly doat upon a monkey, I would (as Iago says on a different occasion)" exchange my humanity with a baboon."
Yet there have been many instances, besides my female friend, of this fondness for the brute creation being carried to very ridiculous lengths. The grave doctors of the faculty have been called in to feel the pulse of a lap-dog, and inspect the urine of a squirrel; nay, I am myself acquainted with a lady, who carried this matter so far, as to discharge her chaplain, because he refused to bury her monkey. But the most solemn piece of mummery on these occasions, is the making provisions for these animals by will; which absurd legacies as little deserve the title of humanity, as those people merit being called charitable, who in a death-bed fright starve their relations, by leaving their estates to found an hospital. It were indeed to be wished, that money left in trust for such uses were subject to some statute of mortmain; or at least that the gentlemen of the long robe would contrive some scheme to cut off the entail from monkeys, mackaws, Italian greyhounds, and tabby cats.
That a stage coachman should love his cattle better than his wife and children, or a country squire be fond of his hounds and hunters, is not so surprising, because the reason of their regard for them is easily accounted for: and a sea-captain has, upon the same principles, been known to contract an affection for his ship. Yet no coachman would, like Caligula tie his horses to a golden rack: but thinks he shews sufficient kindness by giving them a good feed and clean straw and the country sportsman takes care to pro vide his hounds with a warm kennel and horse-flesh; but would never think of placing them on cushions