« PreviousContinue »
This festival is of a singular kind, of which there is no model elsewhere. It is intended to encouragé wisdom, by bestowing public honour, and for such a purpose they ought to be boundless. Where Virtue reigns there is no rival, and whoever wishes for distinction in her presence, cannot be sufficiently sensible of what is due to her triumph.
The distinguishing characteristic of this festival is, that every part of it is referable to the Queen, that every thing is eclipsed by her presence ; her splendour is direct, not reflected; her glory borrows nothing from distinctions of rank; she has no need of any one to make her great and respectable ; in one word, it is the image of virtue which shines, and every thing disappears before her.
The Pastor is as respectable as his flock is pure. By shewing himself the protector of a festival which preserves the morals of the people from the general contagion, he performs the only character that is suitable to him. It is pleasing to have men to govern, who are upright, simple, and industrious; happy in their mediocrity, peaceable in their mutual dealings, of whom there is no example of “a single person” having been carried before a Magistrate : men, whose purity has never been stained by a crime, never tarnished by a mean action, never debased by a single condemnation; men, whose humble dwellings offer to view, in the bosom of active indigence, the virtues of both the sexes united for the common happiness.
A few months ago two gentleman who had been left executors to the will of a friend, on examining into the property left by the testator, found they could not discharge the legacies by some hundreds of pounds; astonished at this circumstance, as the deceased had frequently informed them he should have more than sufficient for that purpose, they made the most diligent search possible among his papers, &c. and found a scrap of paper, on which was written seven hundred pounds in Till.” This they took in the literal sense of it; but as their friend had never been in trade, they imagined it singular he should keep such a sum of money in a Till; however they examined all his apartinents carefully, but in vain, and after repeated attempts to discover it, gave over the search. They sold his library of books to a bookseller, and paid the legacies in proportion. The singularity of the circuinstance occasioned them frequently to converse about it, and they recollected among the books sold (which had taken place upwards of seven weeks before) there was a folio edition of Tillotson's Sermons. The probability of this being what was alluded to by the word " Till" on the piece of paper, made one of them immediately wait upon the person who had purchased the books, and ask him if he had the edition of Tillotson which had been among the books sold to him ; on his reply in the affirmative, and the volumes being handed down, the gentleman immediately purchased them, and on carefully examining the leaves, found bank notes, singly dispersed in various places of the volumes, to the amount of seven hundred pounds ! —But what is perhaps no less remarkable than the preceding, the bookseller informed him that a gentleman at Cambridge, reading in his catalogue of his edition to be sold, had written to him, and desired it might be sent to Cambridge, which was accordingly done; but the books not answering the gentleman's expectations, had been returned ; and had been in the bookseller's shop till the period of this very singular discovery.
DIFFERENCE OF TEMPER IN THE SEXES.
Women in their nature are much more gay and joyous than men;
whether it be that their blood is more refined, their fibres more delicate, and their animal spirits more light and volatile : or whether, as some have imagined, there may not be a kind of sex in the very soul, I shall not pretend to determine. As vivacity is the gift of women, gravity is that of men. They should each of then therefore keep a watch upon the particular bias which nature has fixed in their minds, that it may not draw too much, and lead them out of the paths of reason. This will certainly happen, if the one in every word and action affects the character of being rigid and severe, and the other of being brisk and airy. Men should beware of being captivated by a kind of savage philosophy, women by a thoughtless gallantry. Where these precautions are not observed, the man often degenerates into a cynic, the woman into a coquette ; the man grows sullen and morose, the woman impertinent and fantastical.
By what I have said, we may conclude men and women were made as counterparts to one another, that the pains and anxieties of the husband might be relieved by the sprightliness and goodhumour of the wife. When these are rightly tempered, care and cheerfulness go hand in hand ; and the family, like a ship that is duly trimmed, wants neither sail nor ballast.
Natural historians observe (for whilst I am in the country I must fetch my allusions from thence) that only the male birds have voices; and their songs begin a little before breeding-time, and end a little after : that whilst the hen is covering her eggs, the male generally takes his stand upon a neighbouring bough within her hearing : and by that means amuses and diverts her with his songs during the whole time of her sitting:
This contract among birds lasts no longer than till a brood of young ones arises from it ; so that in the feathered kind, the cares and fatigues of the married state, if I may so call it, lie principally upon the female. On the contrary, as in our species the man and the woman are joined together for life, and the main hurden rests upon the former, nature has given all the little arts of soothing and blandishment to the female, that she may cheer and animate her companion in a constant and assiduous application to the making provisions for his family, and the educating of their common children. This however is not to be taken so strictly, as if the same duties were not often reciprocal and incumbent on both parties; but only to set forth what seems to have been the general intention of nature, in the different inclinations and endowments which are bestowed on the different sexes.
But whatever was the reason that man and woman were made with this variety of temper we observe the conduct of the fairsex, we find that they choose rather to associate themselves with a person who resembles them in that light and volatile humour which is natural to them, than to such as are qualified to moderate and counterbalance it. It has been an old complaint, that the coxcomb carries it with them before the man of sense. When we see a fellow loud and talkative, full of insipid life and laughter, we may venture to pronounce him a female favourite. Noise and flutter are such accomplishments as they cannot withstand. To be short, the passion of an ordinary woman for a man is nothing else but self-love diverted upon another object. She would have the lover a woman in every thing but the sex.
I do not know a finer piece of satire on this part of womankind, than those lines of Mr. Dryden.
Our thoughtless sex is caught by outward form,
This is a source of infinite calamities to the sex, as it frequently joins them to men, who in their own thoughts are as fine creatures as themselves; or if they chance to be good-humoured, serve only to dissipate their fortunes, inflame their follies, and aggravate their indiscretions.
The same female levity is no less fatal to them after marriage than before. It represents to their imaginations the faithful, prudent husband, as an honest, tractable, and domestic animal; and turns their thoughts upon the fine gay gentleman that laughs, sings, and dresses so much more agreeably.
As this irregular vivacity of temper leads astray the hearts of ordinary women in the choice of their lovers and the treatment of their husbands, it operates with the same pernicious influence towards their children, who are taught to accomplish themselves in all those sublime perfections that apppear captivating in the eye of their mother. She admires in her son what she loved in her gallant; and by that means contributes all she can to perpetuate herself in a worthless progeny.
The younger Faustina was a lively instance of this sort of woman. Nowithstanding she was married to Marcus Aurelius, one of the greatest, wisest, and best of the Roman emperors, she thought a common gladiator much-the prettier gentleman; and had taken such care to accomplish her son Commodus according to her own notions of a fine man, that when he ascended the throne of his father, he became the most foolish and abandoned tyrant that was ever placed at the head of the Roman empire, signalizing himself in nothing but the fighting for prizes, and knocking out men's brains. As he had no taste for true glory, we see him in several medals and statues, which are still extant of him, equipped like a Hercules, with a club and lion's skin.:
I have been led into this speculation by the characters I have heard of a country gentleman and his lady, who do not live many miles from Sir Roger. The wife is a coquette, that is always hankering after the diversions of the town; the husband a morose rustic, that frowns and frets at the name of it. The wife is overrun with affectation, the husband sunk into brutality. The lady cannot bear the noise of the larks and nightingales, hates your tedious summer-days, and is sick at the sight of shady woods and purling streams; the husband wonders how any one can be pleased with the fooleries of plays and operas, and rails from morning to night at essenced fops and tawdry courtiers. The children are educated in these different notions of their parents. The sons follow the father about his grounds, while the daughters read volumes of love-letters and romances to their mother. By this means it comes to pass, that the girls look upon their father as a clown, and the boys think their mother no better than she should be.
How different are the lives of Aristus and Aspasia! The innocent vivacity of the one is tempered and composed by the cheerful gravity of the other. The wife grows wise by the discourses of the husband, and the husband good-humoured by the conversations of the wife. Aristus would not be so amiable were it not for his Aspasia, nor Aspasia so much esteemed were it not for her Aristus. Their virtues are blended in their children, and diffuse through the whole family a perpetual spirit of benevolence, complacency, and satisfaction.
THE TWO HEROINES, OR THE SACRIFICES OF LOVE
Three years had passed since the Count de Marlines had married the heiress of the house of Thomont. The parents on both sides had resolved on this match, merely to terminate the long quarrels that had subsisted between the two families, and to unite their vast estates in the married pair. Their respective tastes, of course, were not consulted ; and yet they lived together in perfect harmony. Marlines, it is true, was one of those benign characters, which nothing can resist; and Matilda de Thomont, formed by the graces, and tenderness itself, after being married three years, was incapable of comprehending the utility of prescribing as a duty--the supreme pleasure of loving a husband. The tenderness of Marlines was equal to her own ; but in vain was every effort to conceal a secret chagrin which, in spite of himself, was too apparent, and which tended still more to engage the most affectionate attentions of Matilda. Often involuntary