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Ούκ έσαμαι πλατιν έτ’ ευχομαι, αλλά μου είη
Ζήν από των ολίγων μηδέν έχοντι κακόν.
" I ask not wealth , let me enjoy
arrival at the house I was shewn into a small room in the base story, which the owner of this fine place usually occupied, and in which he now received me: here I had been but a very few minutes before he proposed to shew me the house, and for that purpose conducted me up stairs to the grand apartment, and from thence made the entire tour, without excepting any one of the bed-chambers, offices, or even closets in the house. I cannot say my friend Attalus consulted times and seasons in chusing so early a moment after my arrival for parading me about in this manner; some of the apartments were certainly very splendid ; a great deal of rich furniture and many fine pictures solicited my notice, but the fatigue of so ill-timed a perambulation disabled me from expressing that degree of admiration, which seemed to be expected on this occasion, and which on any other I should have been forward to bestow: I was sorry for this, because I believe he enjoyed little other pleasure in the possession of his house, besides this of shewing it; but it happened to my host, as it does too frequently to the owners of fine places, that he missed
the tribute of Aattery by too great eagerness in exacting it.
It appeared to me that Attalus was no longer the gay lively man he was formerly; there was a gloom upon his countenance and an inquietude in his manner, which seemed to lay him under a constraint that he could not naturally get rid of: time hung heavy on our hands till the hour of dinner, and it was not without regret I perceived he had arranged his family meals upon the fashionable system of London hours, and at the distance of two hundred miles from the capital had by choice adopted those very habits, which nothing but the general custom of late assemblies and long sittings in parliament can excuse upon the plea of necessity : it was now the midst of summer, which made the absurdity of such a disposition of our time more glaring, for whilst the best hours of the afternoon were devoted to the table, all exercise and enjoyment out of doors were either to be given up, or taken only in the meridian heat of the day. I discovered a further bad consequence of these habits upon society and good fellowship, for such of the neighbouring gentry, who had not copied his example, were deterred from making him any visits, not presuming to disturb him at unsuitable hours, and yet not able, without a total disarrangement of their own comforts, to make their time conform to his, Attalus himself, I must acknowledge, both saw and confessed the bad system he was upon; he found himself grown unpopular amongst his country neighbours on this very score, and was piqued by their neglect of him : it was a villainous custom,' he observed, and destructive both of health and pleasure : but all people of fashion dined at five, and what could he do? he must live as other great families lived; if indeed he was a mere private gen
tleman, he might do as he liked best.' If it be so, thought I, this man’s great fortune is an incumbrance to him: if it robs him of health and pleasure, what does it give him, nay what can it give him, in compensation for the loss of such blessings? if fashion takes away from Attalus the liberty of doing what he best likes, and is best for him, I must have been mistaken in supposing independence was the result of affluence: I suspect there are not all the advantages in his condition which I supposed there were-I will examine this more narrowly.
The next morning, after a late breakfast, the consequence I had foreseen ensued, for we were advanced into the hottest hours of the day, when Attalus, being impatient to shew me the beauties of his park and grounds, gave orders for the equipages and horses to be made ready, and we were to set out upon in a burning sun.
When the train was in waiting at the door, we sallied forth, but here a discussion began, in which so many things required a new arrangement, that a long stop was put to our march, whilst the scrutinizing eye of Attalus was employed in a minute examination of every thing appertaining to the cavalry and carriages: the horses were wrong harnessed, they were to be changed from the off-side to the nearside, saddles were to be altered, and both groom and coachman were heartily recommended to repeated damnation for their stupidity and inattention.• Never any man was so plagued with rascally servants as I am,' cried Attalus; "they are the curse and vexation of my life; I wish I could live without them; no man can be happy, who has to do with them.'—Is it so? (said I within myself) then I have the advantage over you in that respect, for I have but one man and one horse, and both are al.. ways ready at a moment's warning.
I mounted a phaeton with Attalus and we set forward in a broiling day: my conductor inmediately began to vent his
angry object, and plied his thong at such a furious rate upon his unoffending horses, that the high mettled animals so resented the unjust correction, that after struggling and kicking under the lash for some time, one of them reared across the pole of the chaise and snapped it: this produced a storm of passion more violent than the first, and though it was evident the servant had put the horses on their proper sides at first, the fault was charged upon him with vehement imprecations, and this produced a second halt longer and more disagreeable than our setting out had been: our purpose however was not to be defeated, and we must positively proceed; Attalus was not in a humour to submit with patience to disappointments, so that having ordered two of his servants to dismount, we took their horses and set off upon our tour; the beauties of nature were before us, but that serenity of mind, which should ever accompany the contemplation of those beauties, was wanting; Attalus was one of fortune's spoilt children, and his temper, grown irritable by indulgence and humoursome by prosperity, had lost its relish for simplicity, and was wholly given up to a silly passion for ostentation and parade; he immediately began to harangue upon the many evil qualities of servants, a topic at the best unedifying and commonly most disgusting to the hearers; he bewailed his own ill-fortune in that respect very bitterly, and so much of the way passed off before this philippic was concluded, that I began to think I had been carried out for no better purpose than to hear a declamation in the open air: I brought him at last to a stop, by observing, he had a paradise about him, and that it was a pity his vexations did
not suffer him to enjoy it_Upon this hint he seemed to recollect himself, and proceeded to expatiate upon his own improvements, pointing out to me what he had done, and what he had more in mind to do, if his overseer had obeyed his instructions, and proper people had been found to execute his designs.
I took notice of a group of neat cottages, which had a very picturesque and pleasing appearance,
for they were deliciously situated, and had all the air, as I observed, of happy habitations— No matter for that,' replied Attalus, down they must all come, for they are cruelly in my eye, and I purpose to throw all that hill into wilderness with plantations of pine, where you see the rock and broken ground, which will be a bold and striking contrast to the ornamented grounds about it~I am surprised,' added he, you can see any beauty in those paltry huts.' -Before I could make reply, an old peasant had approached us, and humbly enquired of Attalus, when he was to be dislodged from his cottage-'I have ordered the workmen to take it down next week,' said he, the season is favourable for your removal, and you must seek out elsewhere. The decree was heard without an effort to reply ; a sigh was all the plea the poor man offered, and with that sigh he sent a look to heaven that in its passage rent my heart: I determined to be gone next morning.
We proceeded in our circuit till we were crossed by a high enclosure, which awkwardly enough separated a pasture of about three acres, in which was a brick-kiln too conspicuously placed not to annoy the sight, and at that very moment too furiously employed in the act of duty, not to be excessively offensive to the smell; we found ourselves involved in columns of thick smoke, which were not of the most grateful odour in the world; I confess I was not a little surprised at the location of this flaming