Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

of the women of high rank so plainly evince the care that is bestowed on their instruction, and where the piety, learning and morality of the men is only to be equalled by their humility I will not conceal from you, that in these true and faithful pictures of the manners and morals of the people of England, I see much that appears to me extraordinary and incomprehensible. Here, it is said by our philosophers, that, “in this life (compounded of good and evil)" sickness and health, opulence and calamity, fruition and disappointment, are bound up together; thus every thing is produced mith a companion which shall destroy it.” By this scheme of things, the wounds of affliction are ever within the reach of some cordial balm, which, if it does not heal, may at least serve to alleviate its anguish; while in the purest cup of felicity is mingled such particles as may serve to remind the mortal to whom it is presented

* Heetopades.

of the sublunary source from whence it flowed.—In England, on the contrary (if I am to believe these histories) happiness and misery are known only in extremes; there the tide of adversity sets in with such destructive fury, that the bare recital of the unheard-of calamities it occasions is sufficient to melt the hardest heart | Nor when the flood of fortune comes, is the torrent of prosperity which it produces less extraordimary and amazing ! In its resistless career every barrier to happiness is broken down. The undeserving husband, the cruel father, and the malicious aunt, are all carried off by death: while riches, honours, titles, fine clothes, and spotless character, complete the felicity of the beautiful and loving pair, who are designed to be overwhelmed in this sea of bliss. From the authority of these authentick memoirs, it appears, that marriage in Europe is never contracted but from the most pure and disinterested motives. Every young woman who is handsome and accomplished, however humble her birth, or small her for

tune, is there certain of attracting the love and admiration of numbers of the highest rank in the community. What a glorious encouragement is held forth to the females of that happy island, who must be blind indeed not to perceive that it is their own obstinacy and folly that alone can possibly prevent their advancement to the very summit of felicity : For such folly and obstinacy, whenever it occurs, a very peculiar and extraordinary punishment is reserved. After a few years, spent, as it is generally believed, in vain repentance and useless regret, they all at once, without any exceptions in favour of virtue, merit, useful or ornamental accomplishments, undergo a certain change, and incomprehensible transformation, and become what is termed OLD M Al Ds. From all that I have hitherto been able to learn of these creatures, the Old Maid is a sort of venomous animal, so wicked in its temper and so mischievous in its disposition, that one is surprised that its very existence should be tolerated in a civilized society.

[graphic]
[ocr errors][merged small]

AFTER having spent many days in the study of those authors, so warmly recommended by the young Bibby, I began to apprehend that though to more enlightened minds they might doubtless prove a source of instruction and delight, they were not sufficiently adapted to my weak capacity to afford any recompense for the time spent in their perusal. Never before did my heart refuse its sympathy to human misery; but the distresses of the Lady Hariots, and the Lady Charlottes, which called forth the overflowings of compassion in the breasts of their fair correspondents, were of a nature too refined and delicate to be discernible to any save the miscroscopick eye of European sensibility

The change which according to these sage writers of Novels has taken place in human nature, must have been as sudden as it appears unaccountable. In the days of their great Dramatick Poet, the Calidas of Europe, it was certainly unknown; in his masterly delineations of the passions, it is every where and at every period the same : and from a perusal of his works, one would be tempted to imagine (notwithstanding the evidence of these authentick memoirs to the contrary) that though manners may differ and local customs fall into oblivion, the traits of kindred likeness, which the Creator has been pleased to impress on the great family of the human race, may, by a discerning eye, be traced through every clime and in every period of its existence How otherwise should the immortal Calidas, who flourished two thousand years ago,” and the

* Calidas, the celebrated dramatick poet of India, flourished, according to Sir William Jones, in the first century before Christ; he was one of the nine men of ge. nius, commonly called the Mine Gems, who were favoured with the patronage and splendidly supported by the

WOL. II. 3

« EdellinenJatka »