Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

a

favourite amongst the ladies. If this gentleman, as the lady avers, is ignorant of the science of ærostation, his courage is the greater; and courage is always entitled to the smiles of the fair; and it too frequently happens to receive nothing else. If he is not ignorant, the lady's objection falls to the ground; and to accuse that man of ignorance in the science of æroitation, who first experimentally showed us what a balloon is, does not, in my opinion, indicate much wisdom in the accuser. The lady should recollect, that all human contrivances are liable to the accidents of time and chance; and that when we judge of others, we should take the favourable side of the question, that if we do

crr,

it
may

be

an error of the head, and not of the heart.

AMONGST other female epistles, I have one, signed LINDAMIRA, to which I cannot help raying particular attention: it is written in a neat Italian hand, but so very delicate, that, in addition to my spectacles, I was obliged to use a magnifying glass. The subject of this epistle is as delicate as the hand-writing; and I should wrong my fair correspondent not to give her my sentiments on that subject, which is simply, " Whether, on being earnestly asked by a gen“ tleman for a lock of hair, a positive refufal can “ be construed into a want of civility, or a com“ pliance into an act imprudence ?”

It gives me no small pleasure to find that there are young ladies who duly consider the consequence of conferring favours; and it having been customary to exchange locks of hair, as tokens of friendship, and not on flight occafions, the lady's question is natural and proper; though it will not admit of an easy solution without tho knowledge of some particulars, which, probably, LINDAMIRA may not be inclined to communicate. I mean the real character of the gentleman who requests the favour; the nature of his connexion with the lady; and the extent of her regard for him.

Mr. Pope's Rape of the Lock has, perhaps, given additional consequence to favours of this kind; every female reader of Pope, may fancy herself a Be LINDA, and prize her locks accordingly; and, indeed, she cannot estimate the value too highly, if she regards that favour as an earnest of future kindness, or as an indication of peculiar attachment; and, from the serious manner in which LINDAMIRA proposes her question, fhe, doubtless, considers it in this view : in that cale, she cannot be too cautious in conferring a favour, on which she may set more value than the receiver himself,

It remains, therefore, with LINDAMIRA to 66 let her own discretion be her tutor;” and to have an impartial regard to the character of the gentleman. There is a sort of gallant gentry, who solicit petty favours from every woman with whom they happen to converse, “ to be dress'd " in an opinion" of being " well with the ladies.” Of all coxcombs, these are the most dangerous and the most numerous. They are to be seen in all public places, and seldom appear without the ensigns of their vanity, in the forms of lockets, breast-buckles, hair-pins, and pictures, which ihey as studiously expose as if the trinkets were intended for sale; generally with a view to excite enquiry, and to have an opportunity of insinuating upon what good terms they are with the givers :—" that's villainous, and shews a most

pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it."-If I may judge from the contents of LINDAMIRA'S letter, I shall readily conclude, that she is not solicited by any being of this dcscription, to whom I am confident she would give a flat negative; and which could not “ be construcd into

a want of civility."

IF LINDAMIRA cannot read the heart of her admirer, she can at least read his character; doubtless she has good sense and discernment sufficient to discover his principal motive for requesting the favour; if it be from a friendly and sincere regard for her, independent of passion, that friendly and sincere regard will restrain him from making any improper use of it: he will preserve it as a memento of that elegant friendliness which has sweetened his leisure hours, and induced him to make the request. If a refusal, in this case, might not “ be construed into a want 66 of civility,” I am afraid it would savour 100 much of that fpecies of rigid prudence which, bordering on affectation, and so difficult to be distinguished from it, is no recommendation to a girl of polished manners and liberal sentiments.

ADMITTING for a moment, that the gentleman is a passionate admirer, and that he solicits this favour as a lover, then must LINDAMIRA act with caution; then must she commune with her

own heart," and weigh seriously the consequence of gratifying the request of an ardent lover, in a manner which may imply an approbation of his passion; and which if she does not approve, it would be wrong even thus far to encourage. If, on the other hand, that approbation is not wanting, a compliance with the request cannot be construed “ into an act of imprudence;" for I have too high an opinion of LINDAMIRA'S

discretion,

a

so ex

discretion, to suppose that she would fhew any partiality where it is not merited, and where there is a possibility of her considence being abused.

I HAVE dwelt thus long on a subject, which many of my readers will think of little importance, because nothing gives me greater pleasure, than to encourage sentiments of delicacy, and to gratify laudable curiosity. From my total ignorance of the character of LINDAMIRA's friend, and the nature of her connexion with him, I am not able to give a more decided opinion: when the lady shall think proper to repose more confidence in me, she

may rest assured of every service and instruction in my power; and it will give me singular satisfaction to hear of her welfare.

I must not here omit an opportunity which naturally presents itself, of addressing my female readers, on the subject of LINDAMIRA's letter, It is upwards of half a century since I began to observe the influence of general manners on the conduct of individuals. In proportion as the ideas expand, and people embrace more liberal sentiments, they are apt to neglect those minutiæ which stamp with propriety the common oc. currences and domestic transactions of life; so that refinement of manners does not always accompany liberality of sentiment; for we daily observe, that men of the most liberal sentiments are generally distinguished for incongruity of action. Hence it is, that what in one age has been deemed important, has, in another, been disrcgarded. It seems to be the fashion of the present day to hold in contempt those ceremonious manners by which the higher ranks of society were heretofore distinguifhed; and an easy negligence is the test of gentility. Constraint and formality are extremely disgusting, and there are many who cannot distinguish between formality and ceremony. There is, however, a certain degree of ceremony highly serviceable to the interests of virtue; and it is much to be feared, that in rejecting its exterior forms, propriety itself is sometimes sacrificed; and modish folly, under new names, usurps the authority of genuine politeness.

Tue female part of the world being generally captivated with “ outward fhew and ornament," and the first to adopt new fashions and new notions, as if truth and propriety were not always the same, and their conduct, being at the same time, the object of general criticism, it is no wonder that the present laxity of manners exposes them to innumerable inconveniencies, of which

none but those of extreme delicacy can have any conception, and from which they would be preserved by a strict attention to propriety, and an uniform adherence to some principles and modes of conduct, which I am sorry to find have been supplanted by flimsy acquisitions, and a kind of artificial graces that, along with constraint and formality, have banished that striệt propriety and that elegant minutiæ of manners, if I may press myself, which should always adorn the female character, and which cannot better be secured, than by preserving the native dignity of their fex; and that is easily done by permitting none to approach them, but with that respet which is always due to female decorum; so true is the remark of an old writer: “ Ceremony” says he, “ kceps up all things; 'tis like a penny glass " to a rich spirit, or some excellent water: with" out it the water were spilt, the spirit loft.6. Of all people,” adds he, “ the ladies have no “ reason to cry down ceremony, for they take 66 themselves to be fighted without it.

And 6 were they not used with ceremony, with com

pliments and addresses, with legs and kissing “ of hands, they were the pitifulest creatures in " the world.”

Wulst so much of female consequence depends on the cxternal signs of respect, it is surely the first interest of my fair readers to cultivate those habits, and that mode of conduct which

tend to establish the favourable opinion they may have raised in the minds of others; a task which requires nothing but resolution to stem the torrent of fashion, and to reject these flippant airs and that pretended ease so much in vogue, and to substitute such qualities as will not only adorn the spring, but add a grace to the winter of life.

I MAY be accused of the partiality of old age to old manners; and I Mould have suspected my judgınent might have been biased, was I not a daily witness of the good effects resulting from that line of behaviour I have chalked out, and of the evil consequences arising from a contrary conduct,

Having, in this essay, noticed a part of my female correspondents only, I shall take a future opportunity of paying particular attention to the favours of those gentlemen who have honoured me with their sentiments on a variety of subjects.

may

POETRY

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Mr. SPECTATOR,

Though every one of the passions affords ample scope for metaphysical investigation, I believe none of them has so much employed the thoughts of moralists and philosophers, and perhaps of almost every other species of writers, as that of Love. Whether this be an argument of its excellence or consequence to mankind, I shall not pretend to determine.

If we would altogether credit the graver part of the world, we should believe that scarce any degree of love were justifiable. The stoics, who, among other of their hopeful tenets, considered the passions in the same light in regard to the mind, as we do distempers with respect to the body, have in a particular manner levelled their invectives against love: but whatever views they might have in so doing, they have been so far from doing mankind a service by this sort of do&trine, that instead of teaching them the most exalted degree of virtue, they have only contributed to extinguish that fine sense of humanity and tenderness, from which only worthy and virtuous actions are to be expected. To be unmoved at the distresses of the unfortunate, and regardless of the ties of nature, is certainly heroic enough in conscience;—but it is, I think, carrying the jest a little too far, to declaim against a paslion upon which not only the welfare, but the continuance of our species fo immediately depends.

Our countryman, Mr. OSBORN, in his advice to a son, could afford it no other appellation, than that of the child of idleness; and a much greater author than he told us,

6 That amongst “ all the great and worthy persons whereof the

memory remaineth, there is not one that hath 5 been transported to the mad degree of love;" and then infers, that " great fpirits and great “ business keep out this weak passion.”

The Poets, on the other hand, who indeed have reason enough to be advocates for it, fince

it

In that dread hour, when summond to depart,

Some trembling W18 H the spirit shall detain; Some darling image still shall warm the heart,

And strive to keep its precious hold---in vain!

Thus, the poor miser, shipwreck'd and forlorn,

Whilst grim destruction howls in ev'ry blast; From hope, from life, from years of comfort torn,

Grasps his beloved treasure to the last!

Thus wretched Carlos,* in the fatal scene,

Decreed by fate, and barb'rous Philip's pride, Held the fair image of his much-lov'd queen,

And view'd the dear resemblance---till he died !

a

Ah! who shall say the scene is clos'd on earth,

And heav'n here marks its fav’rites by success, When guilt ost triumphs o'er ingenuous worth,

And virtue oft muft languish in distress?

* Don Carlos, son to Philip II, of Spain, doomed to dcath by his father's jealousy.

it is love that first inspired what has made most of them famous, have considered it as the only thing that can make life desirable, and have urged all that their fertile imaginations could ever suggest in its defence.

The opinion of this latter sort of men, however extravagant it may seem, is of the two the more eligible, as it tends to promote, as well as the more obvious advantages, a mutual benevolence; whereas the other arraigns the wisdom of the power that made us: However, it were to be wished that those gentlemen, the poets, had been less industrious in inflaming the imaginations of their readers, than in correcting their understandings; the affc&tions of youth are generally prompt enough of themselves, and stand more in need of a bridle than a fpur.

Nothing has in a greater degree contributed to give us wrong notions of love, than the manner in which it is represented to us on the stage and in novels, the chief business of which for several years past, instead of recommending innocence and inculcating virtuous principles, has been to infuse into people's minds a love of libertinism, and a spirit of intrigue and tratagem. Even an honourable amour to persons of this temper, if there are in it none of these plots and contrivances to cheat the old folks, as they are called, with which most modern comedies abound, is the most insipid thing in the world. Such people generally like each other they know not why; they encounter a thousand difficulties to get married, and for ever after are quite indifferent to each other. I do not doubt, but that, amongst many other things, the frequent examples of this fort which France might produce, occafioned, M. St, Evremont's saying, “that true 6 love resembled ghosts and apparitions, becaufe

every one was talking of it, but few or none 6i had ever seen it."

The only incentive to, and the best preservative of love, I mean that sort of it which is worth the obtaining, is merit; and as this is one of those truths which carries demonstration with it, the worth of beauty is perhaps less than we imagine it to be. The opinions and inclinations of persons, are as different as their faces; and beauty, be it ever so perfect, can never have the same influence on all ; whereas merit is an universal claim, and, besides, it is always sure to make the deepest impressions on the most worthy. In short, in matters of love, beauty alone is not to be trusted to ; and she who thinks to secure the esteem of a husband, with no other claim to it, than what a fine skin or a genteel air can give,

will, to her cost, find, that as these abate that will diminish.

I CANNOT, on this occasion, omit mentioning the advice which a Lady, who understood the world, gave to her daughter on her marriage. “ You are now become the partner, for life, of a person whose even temper and exact breeding are the least of his many good qualities; and though perhaps you are handsome enough to gain an abfolute dominion over a man of less discretion, yet neither the love nor the complaisance of your husband will suffer him to esteem

you

for what the pi&tures in his gallery, or the statues in his garden possess in as eminent a degree as yourself: Believe me, who am acquainted with the world, and have seen husbands in a few months time cease to be lovers, believe me, I say, when I tell you, that it requires no small share of virtue and good—I had almost faid-politic management, to keep alive any tolerable degree of passion for thirty or forty years, in spite of age, sickness, and other calamities to which human life is inci. dent: The love of a person of merit is well worth the striving for, and this you may lay down as an infallible rule, that there is no way so effectual to attain it, as to deserve it.”

We who inhabit the more Western parts of the world, and value ourselves much above the rest of mankind, on account of our superior attainments, have but little reason to boast of our capacity for, or our behaviour in love, since there are greater and more frequent instances of it to be found among people wholly strangers to our modern refinements, and those empty theories which we have formed of it. What is reported, and so well attested of the women of Narsinga, in the East-Indies, will sufficiently justify this affertion; and at the same time shew that flattery, dissimulation, and the many other arts that the politer Europeans practice to procure and support love, are nothing when compared with that natural innocence and fimplicity which, the more is the pity, is the effect of ignorance alone.

That ingenious Lady, the Marchioners de Lambert, whose thoughts are faulty only in that they are somewhat too refined-for, alas! there are but few Abelards and Eloises now a days tells us,

ós that those whose souls are of a grave and serious caft, are of all others, the most sufceptible of love;” those of a more volatile fancy are apt to have their affections diverted by every new object they meet with ; but that refined and soothing kind of melancholy, so natural to persons of this temper, is continually suggesting to their imaginations a thousand pleasing reflections,

which serve to administer fuel to their fires, and of which none but themselves are capable. As Tuccess in love, to this latter sort of people, is the highest degree of human felicity, fo is disappointment the greatest calamity that can befal them. There are but few other kinds of distress, which the more ordinary amusements of life will not in a short time alleviate; but this has need of all the assistances of reason, philosophy, and patience, and it is not often that those prove effectual. One cannot, without the utmost concern, reflect on those unhappy persons, whose distresses of this kind have ended in their total destruction; many have been deprived of their reason, others have sacrificed their famc, wcalth, and all that they held dear, for the gratification of their pasfions, and not a few have committed the most violent outrages on themselves.

If these observations on this universal passion, should meet with your approbation, I Mall, in fome future essays, add a few others, that have occurred to me on the subject. I am,

Mr. SPECTATOR,
**Yours, &c.

FREDERICK.

till page-coaches and ships are totally forsaken, which, in the course of a few years, I hope will

I be the case,

Tue cause of all this trouble, Spec, is owing to my ignorance in chemical preparations.Quere. Can inflammable air be extracted from paste, custards, or tarts of any kind? What alcensional power will a cubit foot of puffs' produce ? What quantity of rope must be procured, and of what nature, supposing that I should wish to return to the very spot from whence I set out? Can I obtain any help in that way from the study of anatomny ? Will not a man, after dissection, be of more utility than zinc, or steel filings, and prove less expensive ? When you have answered all these questions, Spec, and made a few obfervations of your own, that I may

blend

your judgment with mine, consequently make a deliberate choice relative to the process, you shall behold the wonder of the age! the female Lunardi, and the ne plus ultra of balloonists !-Immortality will attend me, and all the world exclaim, happy woman!

I am, dear Spec,

Yours sincerely,
KITTY LUBLANSADHARPARN.

a

To the New SPECTATOR.

Dear Spec.

P.S. As I mean to take up my own family only, I shall be glad of your company. I mean to set off about midnight, that I may

make obser. vations on the moon and its inhabitants, likewise to discover from what corner the sun rises.

To the New SPECTATOR.

Dear Spec !

Though the folly and extravagance of modern refinement have justly excited your resentment, I have remarked, that you entertain no mcan illiberal prejudice, relative to the abilities and understanding of us deserted females; therefore, if I am presumptuous, and obey the dictates of inspiration, which may hereafter be rcwarded with indignant contempt, ambition must be my protector, and plead my cause.

I HAVE bade adicu to novels and romances these three months; not a circle of admirers, tho' attentive and gallant, can afford me satisfaction; my pen lies useless ; fcandal is insipid; and fashion is no longer despotic. In short, Srec, I am on the verge of rendering my name immortal, and securing that fame which mercenary man is daily endeavouring to monopolize. England was the place of my nativity, and for her honour I have prepared an aerostatic machine, on a construction peculiarly scientific, with which I mean to foar into the bofom of Ether, and by that courage, which our first acrial traveller inspired me with, prevent the future growth of foreign weeds. I acknowledge myself a balloon enthusiast, and positively mean to persevere in that juvenile science

As you thought proper to " rest from your las bours," for so long a time, I am at a loss whether to give you a summary account of the transactions that have engaged the attention of this metropolis since your temporary abdication; and shall be glad to have your instructions on that head. Meanwhile, I shall proceed to give you a hafly sketch of such things as occur to my recollection.

PUBLIC AMUSEMENTS, I MENTION the first, because they seem to be the principal object of attention amongst the good people of this metropolis; but as your correspondents will necessarily engrofs much of your room, I shall not at present dwell on any parti. culars respecting the amusements. I shall only observe, that, instead of improving, they have dwindled into mere puppet-fhows. Would you think it, friend Spec?The rage at present is

for

« AnteriorContinuar »