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a faint ejaculation to his MAKER, whom he had blasphemed all his life. His shocking exit made me reflect on that fine passage in the Scriptures, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my latter end be like his."
The behaviour of this unhappy wretch afforded a dreadful instance of the truth of that maxim," There is no hell like a troubled conscience." "There needs, indeed, no ghost to tell us this:" But it were to be wished, that the conscience of every living reprobate could work on his imagination in the same manner, and raise up such horrid apparitions to torment him. Where is the wretch so hardened, who would not be dismayed at these terrors? Or who could persevere in a course of wickedness, when every fresh offence would create a new fury to haunt him for his crimes?
Let us, for instance, take a view of the most glaring circumstances in the life of that arch-infidel Tom Dare-Devil: and let us at the same time conceive (if possible) what pangs he must have felt, had every flagitious act been attended with the same phantoms that distracted him on his death-bed. First then, let us contemplate him as a parricide; for so he may be called, who by repeated disobedience broke the heart of a most affectionate father. Could filial ingratitude receive a sharper punishment, than in the midst of his debaucheries to have this father continually before his eyes, expostulating with him on his unnatural behaviour? "O my son (might he have heard him say) was it for this that thy mother, who died in giving thee life, begged me with her last breath to be kind to the boy? Was it for this that the country rung with joy for my being blessed with an heir? O my child, who can I now call my heir? That estate, which I was so solicitious to improve for thy sake, is dissipated among jockeys, gamblers, pimps, and prostitutes. If you should ever have a son, may his ingratitude never make you think of me."
Tom, indeed, took care never to have any vexation from children: He had too great a spirit to bear the shackles of matrimony, and lived in a state of celibacy among bagnios. Sometimes he made inroads on private life, and disturbed the peace of families by debauching the wives and daughters of his acquaintance. Among other gallant exploits, he decoyed up to town the daughter of a country gentleman, where he ruined her, and then left her to linger under an infamous disease. At length the fruits of his amour appeared in a child, which soon perished with its unhappy parent in a public hospital. By the same magic of the fancy let us raise up this poor girl with the infant in her arms, while he is wantoning among his doxies, and lording it like a bashaw over the vassals of his lust.. What remorse must this villain have felt, could he have imagined her to have addressed him in the following terms !...." Behold in the loathsome carcase of this babe the image of thyself; foul, , rotten, and corrupt. How could I suffer so contemptible a creature to draw me from the comfortable protection of my parents? It was just indeed that I should fall a victim to my folly but was this diseased infant quickened only to proclaim my dishonor and thy infamy? Why hadst thou yet the power to propagate misery even to the innocent?"
Tom had often signalized himself as a duellist: his 'conscience, as we have already mentioned, upbraided him at his dying moments with the murder of a particular friend. He had once il luck at cards; and being irritated with his losses, and suspecting foul play on the part of his antagonist, he took him by the nose, which consequently produced a challenge. He is hastening to the field of battle: but he fancies himself followed by the manes of his friend, whom on the same unhallowed ground he had lately sacrificed to that idol Honour. He hears him call........ "Turn, madman, turn, and look on me.
remember with what reluctance I met you.... You forced me to the combat....and I was even pleased that the victory was yours. You deprived me of life in an idle quarrel about a creature, whom, at your return from the murder of your friend, you detected in the arms of another. It was honour that induced you to wound the bosom of one you loved: the same honour now calls you to give a fellow, whom you despise, an opportunity to retaliate the injury done to me. What folly is it to put your life into the hands of a scoundrel, who you suspect has already robbed you of your fortune? But go on, and let your death rid the world of a monster, who is desperate enough to put his own life on the hazard, and wicked enough to attempt that of another." It happened, however, that Tom had no occasion for such a monitor, as the person whom he went to meet proved as great a coward, as he was a cheat; and our hero, after waiting a full hour in his pumps, and parrying with the air, had no other revenge for the loss of his money, than the satisfaction of posting him for a scoundrel.
Though the hero of our story was cut off in the prime of his life, yet he may be said, like Nestor, to have outlived three generations. All the young fellows of spirit were proud to be enrolled in the list of his companions; but as their constitutions were more puny than his, three sets of them had dropped into the grave, and left him at the head of the fourth. He would often boast of the many promising geniuses, who had fallen in the vain attempt of keeping pace with him in the various scenes of debauchery. In this light we may consider him as an accessary to so many wanton murders. By the operation of his conscience, at every tavern door he might have met with an acquaintance to bar his passage; and in the midst of his jallity, like Macbeth, he might have
siness to go round the coffee-houses, in order to receive whatever incense of praise I could collect from the approbation of my readers. My heart you may imagine has bounded with joy when I have heard the room echo with calling for the Connoisseur: but how has it sunk again, when I have found the same tokens of esteem shewn to a brother writer! I could have hugged any honest fellow, that has chuckled over my performances, and pointed out my good things: but I have been no less chagrined, when I have seen a coxcomb coolly take up my paper, squint over the first page, and throw it down again with all the indifference imaginable: though, indeed, I have never failed within myself to pronounce of such a person, that he is dull, ignorant and illiterate. I once happened to be seated the next box to two noted critics, who were looking over the file of my papers, and seemed particularly pleased with several parts of them. I immediately conceived a very high opinion of their taste and judgment: I remarked with singular satisfaction the effect, which my wit and hu mour had on their countenances; and as they turned over the pages, I imagined I could point out the very passages, which provoked them frequently to smile, and sometimes to burst into a loud laugh. As soon as they were gone, I seized the file; when lo! to my great mortification, I found they had been reading, not my own admirable works, but the lucubra tions of a brother essayist.
My vanity has often prompted me to wish, that I could accompany my papers, wheresoever they are circulated. I flatter myself I should then be introduced to the politest men of quality, and admitted into the closets of our finest ladies. This consideration would doubtless make me vain of myself: but my pride would be soon checked by reflecting further, that were I obliged to follow my papers afterwards through all their travels and mutations, I should cer
tainly undergo the shame of seeing many of them prostituted to the vilest purposes. If in one place I might be pleased to find them the entertainment of the teatable, in another I should be no less vexed to see them degraded to the base office of sticking up candles. Such is the fatality attending these loose sheets, that though at their first publication they may be thought as precious as the Sibyl's leaves, the next moment they may be thrown aside as no better than a last year's almanack.
Ever since my first appearance in a sheet and half, I have felt great uneasiness on account of the rude treatment which my works have been subject to in their present form. I turned off my printer for a very heinous affront offered to my delicacy, having detected some foul proofs of my first numbers lodged in a very unseemly place; and I almost came to an open rupture with my publisher, because his wife had converted a supernumerary half-sheet into a thread-paper. A lady, whose sense and beauty I had always admired, forfeited my esteem at once, by cutting out a pattern for a cap from one of my papers; and a young fellow, who had spoken very handsomely of one of my essays, entirely lost the good opinion I had conceived of him, by defiling the blank margin with a filthy list of foul shirts and dirty stockings. The repeated abuses of illiterate bakers, pastry-cooks, and chandlers, I know I am condemned to suffer in common with other mortal writers. It was ever their privilege to prey indiscriminately on all authors good or bad; and as politicians, wits, free-thinkers, and divines, may have their dust mingled in the same piece of ground, so may their works be jumbled together in the lining of the same trunk or band box.
One instance may indeed be brought, in which I am used to hail as a lucky omen the damages that my papers appear to have sustained in their outwar