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whatever condition: he has been hunted for whole winters by his rivals; he has slept upon bulks, he has cut chairs, he has bilked coachmen; he has rescued his friends from the bailiffs; has knocked down the constable, has bullied the justice, and performed many other exploits, that have filled the town with wonder and with merriment.
But yet greater is the fame of his understanding than his bravery; for he informs us, that he is, at London, the established arbitrator of all points of honor, and the decisive judge of all performances of genius; that no musical performer is in reputation till the opinion of Frolic has ratified his pretensions; that the theatres suspend their sentence till he begins the clap or hiss, in which all are proud to concur; that no public entertainment has failed or succeeded, but because he opposed or favored it; that all controversies at the gaming-table are referred to his determination; that he adjusts the ceremonial at every assembly, and prescribes every fashion of pleasure or of dress.
With every man whose name occurs in the papers of the day, he is intimately acquainted; and there are very few posts, either in the state or army, of which he has not more or less influenced the disposal. He has been very frequently consulted both upon war and peace; but the time is not yet come when the nation shall know how much it is indebted to the genius of Frolic.
Yet, notwithstanding all these declarations, I cannot hitherto persuade myself to see that Mr. Frolic has more wit, or knowledge, or courage, than the rest of mankind, or that any uncommon enlargement of his faculties has happened in the time of his absence. For when he talks on subjects known to the rest of the company, he has no advantage over us, but by catches
of interruption, briskness of interrogation, and pertness of contempt; and therefore if he has stunned the world with his name, and gained a place in the first ranks of humanity, I cannot but conclude, that either a little understanding confers eminence at London, or that Mr. Frolic thinks us unworthy of the exertion of his powers, or that his faculties are benumbed by rural stupidity, as the magnetic needle loses its animation in the polar climes.
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. Frolic. 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 honors conferred only by himself, I shall treat him with rustic sincerity, and drive him as an impostor from this part of the kingdom to some region of more credulity.
I am, &c.
No. 62. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1750.
Nunc ego Triptolemi cuperem conscendere currus,
Now would I mount his car, whose bounteous hand
That swiftly bore her from Corinthian plains:
TO THE RAMBLER.
I AM a young woman of 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 honors of the female world; but so strangely have they hitherto contrived to waste my life, that I am now on the borders of twenty, without having ever danced but åt 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 encumbrance upon parties of pleasure, and as I can collect from in
cidental 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 inconveniencies, 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 honor that could be paid them. Their long familiarity with public life made them the oracles of all those who aspired to intelligence or politeness. My father dictated politics, 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 correspond-. ent. My parents had no other child, I was therefore not brow-beaten by a saucy brother, or lost in a multitude of coheiresses, whose fortunes being equal, would probably have conferred equal merit, and pro
cured 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 importance 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 splendor of my appearance; for the fondness of my father made him pleased to see me dressed, and my mother had no vanity nor expenses to hinder her from concurring with his inclination.
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 endeavor the entertainment of each other, immediately. transport themselves to London, and relate some adventure in a hackney-coach, some frolic at a masquerade, some conversation in the Park, or some quarrel at an assembly, display the magnificence of a birthnight, relate the conquests of maids of honor, or give a history of diversions, shows, and entertainments, which I had never known but from their
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 cele