The Adventures of Roderick Random HTML version

A Pologue
A young painter, indulging a vein of pleasantry, sketched a kind of conversation piece,
representing a bear, an owl, a monkey, and an ass; and to render it more striking,
humorous, and moral, distinguished every figure by some emblem of human life. Bruin
was exhibited in the garb and attitude of an old, toothless, drunken soldier; the owl
perched upon the handle of a coffee-pot, with spectacle on nose, seemed to
contemplate a newspaper; and the ass, ornamented with a huge tie-wig (which,
however, could not conceal his long ears), sat for his picture to the monkey, who
appeared with the implements of painting. This whimsical group afforded some mirth,
and met with general approbation, until some mischievous wag hinted that the whole--
was a lampoon upon the friends of the performer; an insinuation which was no sooner
circulated than those very people who applauded it before began to be alarmed, and
even to fancy themselves signified by the several figures of the piece.
Among others, a worthy personage in years, who had served in the army with
reputation, being incensed at the Supposed outrage, repaired to the lodging of the
painter, and finding him at home, "Hark ye, Mr. Monkey," said he, "I have a good mind
to convince you, that though the bear has lost his teeth, he retains his paws, and that he
is not so drunk but he can perceive your impertinence." "Sblood! sir, that toothless jaw
is a d--ned scandalous libel--but don't yon imagine me so chopfallen as not to be able to
chew the cud of resentment." Here he was interrupted by the arrival of a learned
physician, who, advancing to the culprit with fury in his aspect, exclaimed, "Suppose the
augmentation of the ass's ears should prove the diminution of the baboon's--nay, seek
not to prevaricate, for, by the beard of Aesculapius! there is not one hair in this periwig
that will not stand up in judgment to convict thee of personal abuse. Do but observe,
captain, how this pitiful little fellow has copied the very curls-the colour, indeed, is
different, but then the form and foretop are quite similar." While he thus remonstrated in
a strain of vociferation, a venerable senator entered, and waddling up to the delinquent,
"Jackanapes!" cried he, "I will now let thee see I can read something else than a
newspaper, and that without the help of spectacles: here is your own note of hand,
sirrah, for money, which if I had not advanced, you yourself would have resembled an
owl, in not daring to show your face by day, you ungrateful slanderous knave!"
In vain the astonished painter declared that he had no intention to give offence, or to
characterise particular persons: they affirmed the resemblance was too palpable to be
overlooked; they taxed him with insolence, malice, and ingratitude; and their clamours
being overheard by the public, the captain was a bear, the doctor an ass, and the
senator an owl, to his dying day.
Christian reader, I beseech thee, in the bowels of the Lord, remember this example
"while thou art employed in the perusal of the following sheets; and seek not to