Page:Johnson - Rambler 3.djvu/261

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N° 147.

THE RAMBLER.

251

silent, wrapped his cloak about him, composed himself to slumber, and reserved his gaiety for fitter auditors.

At length I entered London, and my uncle was reinstated in his superiority. He awaked at once to loquacity as soon as our wheels rattled on the pavement, and told me the name of every street as we crossed it, and owner of every house as we passed by. He presented me to my aunt, a lady of great eminence for the number of her acquaintances, and splendour of her assemblies, and either in kindness or revenge consulted with her, in my presence, how I might be most advantageously dressed for my first appearance, and most expeditiously disencumbered from my villatick bashfulness. My indignation at familiarity thus contemptuous flushed in my face; they mistook anger for shame, and alternately exerted their eloquence upon the benefits of publick education, and the happiness of an assurance early acquired.

Assurance is indeed the only qualification to which they seem to have annexed merit, and assurance therefore is perpetually recommended to me as the supply of every defect, and the ornament of every excellence. I never sit silent in company when secret history is circulating, but I am reproached for want of assurance. If I fail to return the stated answer to a compliment; if I am disconcerted by unexpected raillery; if I blush when I am discovered gazing on a beauty, or hesitate when I find myself embarrassed in an argument; if I am unwilling to talk of what I do not understand, or timorous in undertaking offices which I cannot gracefully perform; if I