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No. 23. TUESDAY, April 13, 1779.
I was lately applied to by a friend, in behalf of a gentleman, who, he said, had been unfortunate in life, to whom he was desirous of doing a particular piece of service, in which he thought my assistance might be useful: “ Poor fellow !” said he, “ I wish to serve him, because I always knew him, dissipated and thoughtless as he was, to be a good-hearted man, guilty of many imprudent things, indeed, but without meaning any harm ! In short, no one's enemy but his own."
I afterwards learned more particularly the circumstances of this gentleman's life and conversation, which I will take the
liberty of laying before my readers, in order to shew them what they are to understand by the terms used by my friend ; terms which, I believe, he was nowise singular in using
The person, whose interests he espoused, was heir to a very considerable estate. He lost his father when an infant; and being, unfortunately, an only song was too much the darling of his mother ever to be contradicted. During his childhood he was not suffered to play with his equals, because he was to be the king of all sports, and to be allowed a sovereign and arbitrary dominion over the persons and properties of his play-fellows. At school he was attended by a servant, who helped him to thrash boys who were too strong to be thrashed by himself; and had a tutor at home, who translated the Latin which was too hard for him to translate. At college he began to assume the man, by treating at tayerns, making parties to the country, filling his tutor drunk, and hiring blackguards to break the windows of the professor with whom he was boarded. He took in succession the degrees of a wag, a pickle, and a lad of mettle. For a while, having made an elopement with his mother's maid, and fathered three children of other people, he got the appellation of a dissipated dog; but, at last, betaking himself entirely to the bottle, and growing red-faced and fat; he obtained the denomination of an honest fellow; which title he continued to enjoy as long as he had money to pay, or indeed much longer, while he had credit to score for his reckoning.
During this last part of his progress, he married a poor girl, whom her father, from a mistaken idea of his fortune, forced to sacrifice herself to his wishes. Af ter a very short space, he grew too indif
, ferent about her to use her ill, and broke her heart with the best-natured neglect i the world. Of two children whom he had by her, one died at nurse soon after the death of its mother; the eldest, a boy of spirit like his father, after twice running away from school, was at last sent aboard a Guinea-man, and was knocked on the head by a sailor, in a quarrel about a Negro wench, on the coast of Africa.
Generosity, however, was a part of his character, which he never forfeited. Beside lending money genteelly to many worthless companions, and becoming surety for every man who asked him, he did some truly charitable actions to very deserving objects. These were told to his honour; and people who had met with refusals from more considerate men, spoke of such actions as the genuine test of feeling and humanity. They misinterpreted scripture for indulgence to his errors on account of his charity, and extolled the goodness of his heart in every company where he was mentioned. Even while