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before the fire, and cramming them with fricassees, or breed them with as much care as the heir to his estate.
This irregular passion (if I may so call it) is most frequently to be met with among the ladies How often has the slighted gallant envied the caresses given to a lap-dog, or kisses bestowed on a squirrel! and "I would I were thy bird!" has been the fond exclamation of many a Romeo. But it is remarkable, that this affection for birds and beasts generally wears off after marriage, and that the ladies discard their fourfooted darlings and feathered favourites, when they can bestow their endearments on a husband. Wherefore, these dry nurses to pugs and grimalkins are mostly to be met with among those females, who have been disappointed in the affairs of love, and have against their will retained the flower of virginity, till it has withered in their possession. It often happens that there is some kind of analogy between the gallant they once loved and the animal on which they afterwards fix their affections: and I remember an instance of a lady's passion for a lawyer being converted into dotage on a parrot; and have an old maiden aunt, who once languished for a beau, whose heart is now devoted to a monkey.
But I should not so much quarrel with these humane ladies, who chuse to settle their affections on the brute species, if their love for these pretty creatures was not troublesome to others who are not so sensible of the charms of a snub-nose, or cannot discover any beauty in the grey eyes of a cat. A doating mother would never forgive you if you did not call her brat a fine child, and dandle it about, and prattle with it, with as much seeming rapture as herself: in like manner, a lady would take it as an affront to her own person, you did not pay your addresses equally to her pug or paroquet. I know a young fellow, that
was cut off with a shilling by an old maiden aunt, on whom he had great dependence, because he gave poor Veny a kick, only for lifting up his leg against the gentleman's stocking: and I have heard of another, who might have carried off a very rich widow, but that he could not prevail upon himself to extend his caresses to her dormouse. Indeed, I cannot help thinking, that the embraces and endearments bestowed on these rivals of the human species should be as private as the most secret intrigues; and I would have lap-dogs, like fretful and squalling children, confined to bark and growl only in the nursery. We may often see a footman following his lady to church with a large common-prayer-book under one arm, and a snarling cur under the other. I have known a grave divine forced to stop short in the middle of a prayer, while the whole congregation has been raised from their knees to attend to the howling of a non-conforming pug; and I once saw a tragedy monarch disturbed in his last moments, as he lay expiring on the carpet, by a discerning critic of king Charles's black breed, who jumped out of the stage-box, and fastening upon the hero's periwig, brought it off in his mouth, and lodged it in his lady's lap.
It will not appear strange, after what has been said, that these ladies, or lady-like gentlemen, should be as solicitous to preserve the breed of their favourite animals, as a sportsman of his hounds and horses. I have known a gentleman in St. James's-street send his little Cupid in his sedan chair as far as Grosvenorsquare, to wait upon a lady's Veny for this very purpose: and I shall never forget a card, which was sent to another lady on a like occasion, expressed in the following terms: "Mr. .........'s compliments to lady "Betty..... is glad to hear Miss Chloe is safely "delivered, and begs it as a particular favour, that "her ladyship would be pleased to set him down for a puppy."
No. XC. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15.
............Ego nec studiam sine divite vena,
Ah, what can Application do,
IF we consider that part of our acquaintance whom we remember from their infancy, we shall find that the expectations we once entertained of their future abilities are in many instances disappointed. Those, who were accounted heavy dull boys, have by diligence and application made their way to the first honours, and become eminent for their learning and knowledge of the world; while others who were regarded as bright lads, and imagined to possess parts equal to any scheme of life, have turned out dissolute and ignorant; and quite unworthy the title of a Genius, except in the modern acceptation of the word, by which it signifies a very silly young fellow, who, from his extravagance and debauchery, has obtained the name of a genius, like lucus a non lucendo, because he had no genius at all.
It is a shocking drawback from a father's happiness, when he sees his son blessed with strong natural parts and quick conception, to reflect that these very talents may be his ruin. If vanity once gets into his head, and gives it a wrong turn, the young coxcomb will neglect the means of improvement, trust entirely to his parts as the brats of quality are taught to be of their family. In the mean time, those whom nature threw far behind him, are by application enabled to leave him at a distance in their turn; and he continues boasting of his genius, till it subsists no longer, but
dies for want of cultivation. Thus vanity and indolence prevent his improvement; and if he is to rise in the world by his merit, take away the means of success, and perhaps reduce him to very miserable distresses. I know one of these early geniuses, who scarce supports himself by writing for a bookseller; and another, who is at leisure to contemplate his extraordinary parts in the Fleet-prison.
If we look into the world, we shall find that the mere genius will never raise himself to any degree of eminence without a close and unwearied application to his respective business or profession. The Inns
of Court are full of these men of parts, who cannot bear the drudgery of turning over dry cases and reports; but though they appear ever so eloquent in taverns and coffee-houses, not the nearest relation will trust them with a brief: and many a sprightly physician has walked on foot all his life, with no more knowledge of his profession than what lies in his periwig. For whatever opinion they themselves may have of their own parts, other persons do not chuse to be bantered out of their estates, or joked out of their lives; and even in trade, the plodding men of the Alley would foretel the bankruptcy of any wit among them, who should laugh at the labour of accounts, or despise the Italian method of book-keeping. Thus we see, that parts alone are not sufficient to recommend us to the good opinion of the world; and if not roused and called forth by study and application, they would become torpid and useless; as the race-horse, though not put to drag a dray or carry a pack, must yet be kept in exercise. But I shall enlarge no farther on this subject, as I would not anticipate the thoughts contained in the following elegant little fable; which is written by the same ingenious hand, that obliged the public with the verses on Imitation, inserted in my sixty-seventh number.
THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE.
GENIUS, blest term of meaning wide!
(For sure no term so misapply'd)
How many bear the sacred name,
But yet suppose a Genius true:
Suppose your watch a Graham make,
Some genial spark of Phoebus' rays
In days of yore, when Time was young, When birds convers'd as well as sung,