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being distinguished for beauty than for virtue. I could not refrain from expressing some disgust at seeing those unfortunate creatures sitting thus openly mingled with women of the first rank and fashion. “Poh!” said my friend, “that is thought nothing of now-a-days; and every body seems to be of the same opinion with the celebrated Countess of Dorchester, mistress of King James II. who having seated herself on the same bench with a lady of rigid virtue, the other immediately shrunk back; which the Countess observing, said, with a smile, Don't be afraid, Madam ; gallantry is not catching."
• As I was going to reprove my friend for talking with such levity of a matter that seemed to be' of so serious a nature, the curtain drew up, and the play began. It is not my design, Sir, to trouble you with any remarks on the performance; the purpose of this letter is to request of you to take some notice of a species of indecorum, that appeared altogether new to me, and which I confess it hurt me to observe.
* Before the end of the first act, a number of young men came in, and took their places in the upper boxes, amidst those unhappy females I have already mentioned. I concluded that these persons were as destitute of any pretensions to birth or fashion, as they were void of decency of manners; but I was equally surprised and mortified to find, that many of them were of the first families of the kingdom. You, Sir, who have lived in the world, and seen the
gradual and almost imperceptible progress of manners, will not, perhaps, be able to judge of my astonishment, when I beheld those very gentlemen quit their seats, and come down to pay their respects to the ladies in the lower boxes. The gross impropriety of this behaviour raised in me a degree of indignation which I could not easily restrain. I comforted myself, however, with the hopes that those unthinking.
youths would meet with such a reception from the women of honour, as would effectually check this indecency; but I am sorry to add, that I could not discern, either in their looks or manner, those marks of disapprobation which I had made my account with perceiving. Both the old and the young, the mothers and the daughters, seemed rather pleased when these young men of rank and fortune approached them. I am persuaded, at the same time, that were they to think but for a moment of the
consequences, they would be sensible of the impropriety of their behaviour in this particular. I must therefore entreat of you, Sir, to take the earliest opportunity of giving your sentiments ou the subject.
I am, &c.
The complaints of my correspondent are not without reason. The boundaries between virtue and vice cannot be too religiously maintained ; and every thing that tends to lesson, in any degree, the respect due Ito a woman of honour, ought ever to be guarded against with the utmost caution.
When I was in France, I observed a propriety of behaviour in the particular mentioned by Mr. A. W. that pleased me much. Even in that country, loose as we imagine the manners there to be, nobody who wishes to preserve the character of a well-bred gentleman, is ever seen at a place of public resort, in company with those misguided fair ones, who, however much they may be objects of pity and compassion, have forfeited all title to respect and esteem. I would recommend to our young men to follow, in this, the example of our neighbours, whom they are so ready to imitate in less laudable instances. To consider it only in this view, there is certainly no greater breach of politeness than that which has given occasion to this letter. In other respects, the con
sequences are truly alarming. When every distinction is removed between the woman of virtue and the prostitute; when both are treated with equal attention and observance; are we to wonder if we find an alteration of the manners of the women in general, and a proportional diminution of that delicacy which forms the distinguishing characteristic of the respectable part of the sex?
These considerations will, I hope, prove sufficient to correct this abuse in our young gentlemen.
As to my fair countrywomen, it is ever with reluctance that I am obliged to take notice of any little impropriety into which they inadvertently fall
. Let them, however, reflect, that a certain delicacy of sentiment and of manners is the chief ornament of the female character, and the best and surest guardian of female honour. That once removed, there will remain less difference than perhaps they may be aware of, beween them and the avowedly licentious. Let them also consider, that, as it is unquestionably in their power
to form and correct the manners of the men, so they are, in some sort, accountable, not for their own conduct only, but also for that of their admirers.
· TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR. . I do not mean to reflect, Mr. Mirror; for that is your business, not mine; far less do I purpose to pun, when I tell you, that it might save some reflections upon yourself, did you take the trouble to translate into good common English those same Latin scraps, or mottos, which you sometimes hang out by way of a sign-post inscription at the top of your paper. For consider, Sir, who will be tempted to enter a house of entertainment offered to the public, when the majority can neither read nor understand the language in which the bill of fare is drawn and held out? I
am a Scotsman of a good plain stomach, who can eat and digest any thing ; yet I should like to have a guess at what was to be expected before I sit down to table. Besides, the fair sex, Mr. Mirror, for whom you express so much respect,—what shall they do? Believe me, then, Sir, by complying with this hint, you will not only please the ladies, but now and then save a blush in their company to some grown gentlemen, who have not the good fortune to be so learned as yourself. Amongst the rest, you will oblige one who has the honour to be
Your admirer and humble servant, Edinburgh, Feb. 19, 1779.
Mr. Ignoramus (whom I take to be a wiser man than he gives himself out for) must have often observed many great personages contrive to be unintelligible in order to be respected.-E.
N° 10. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 1779. .
Id arbitror Adprimè in vità esse utile, ut ne quid nimis.—TER. REFINEMENT, and Delicacy of Taste, are the productions of advanced society. They open to the mind of persons possessed of them a field of elegant enjoyment; but they may be pushed to a dangerous extreme. By that excess of sensibility to which they lead; by that vanity which they flatter; that idea of superiority which they nourish; they may unfit their possessor for the common and ordinary enjoyments of life ; and, by that too great niceness which they
are apt to create, they may mingle somewhat of disgust and uneasiness even in the highest and finest pleasures. A person of such a mind will often miss happiness where nature intended it should be found, and seek for it where it is not to be met with. Disgust and chagrin will frequently be his companions, while less cultivated minds are enjoying pleasure unmixed and unalloyed.
I have ever considered my friend Charles Fleetwood to be a remarkable instance of such a character. Mr. Fleetwood has been endowed by nature with a most feeling and tender heart. Educated to no particular profession, his natural sensibility has been increased by a life of inactivity, chiefly employed in reading, and the study of the polite arts, which has given him that excess of refinement I have described above, that injures while it captivates.
Last summer I accompanied him in an excursion into the country. Our object was partly air and exercise, and partly to pay a visit to some of our friends.
Our first visit was to a college-acquaintance, remarkable for that old-fashioned hospitality which still prevails in some parts of the country, and which too often degenerates into excess. Unfortunately for us, we found with our friend a number of his jovial companions, whose object of entertainment was very different from our's. Instead of wishing to enjoy the pleasures of the country, they expressed their satisfaction at the meeting of so many old acquaintance; because they said it would add to the mirth and sociableness of the party. Accordingly, after a long, and somewhat noisy, dinner, the table was covered with bottles and glasses ; the mirth of the company rose higher at every new toast; and though their drinking did not proceed quite the length of intoxication, the convivial festivity was drawn out, with very little intermission, till it was