صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

“ While,” says Mr. Stanley, “early habits of self-denial are giving firmness to the character, strengthening the texture of the mind, and bardening it against ordinary temptations, the pleasures and employments which we substitute in the place of those we banish, must be such as to raise the taste, to invigorate the intellect, to exalt the nature, and enlarge the sphere of enjoyment; to give a tone to the mind, and an elevation to the sentiments, which shall really reduce to insignificance the pleasures that are prohibited.” 215.

In Mr. Staniey's neighbourhood was a family, consisting of a widow lady and her daughters, who had become gloomy and desponding, under erroneous impressions of religion. He waited on them with the benevolent view of affording them consolation, and restoring them to the enjoyments of society, which they appeared to have renounced. He gives the following account of his laudable efiorts to exhilarate their spirits.

“We carried Lucilla and Phæbe to visit them. I believe Lady Aston was afraid of their gay countenances. I talked to her of the necessity of literature to inform her daughters, and of PLEASURES to enliven them. The term “pleasures” alarmed her still more than that of “ literature.” What pleasures were, she asked, allowed to religious people ? She would make her daughters as liappy as she dared without offending her Maker. I quoted the devout, but liberal Hooker, who exhorts us not to regard the Almighty as a captious sophist, but as a merciful Father. Were God a hard master, might he not withhold the superfluities of his goodness? Do you think he makes such rich provision for us, that we should shut our eyes and close our ears to them? Does he present such gifts with one hand, and hoid, in the other, a stern interdict of "touch not, taste not, handle not?"--I suggested to her, to raise the tone of her daughters' piety, to make their habits less monastic, thcir tempers more cheerful, their virtues more active ; to render their lives more useful, by making them the immediate instruments of her charity ; to take them out of themselves, and teach them to compare their factitious distresses with real substantial misery, and to make them feel grateful for the power and the privilege of relieving it." 80.

“I entirely agree with you,” said Mr. Stanley, o as to the absolute mo. rality of being agreeable, and even entertaining in one's own family. Nothing so soon wears out the happiness of married persons, as that too common bad effect of familiarity, the sinking down into dulness and insipidity ; neglecting to keep alive the flame by keeping the temper cheerful by Chris. tian discipline, and the faculties bright by constant use. Mutual aflection decays of itself, even where there is no great moral turpitude, without mutual endeavours, not only to improve, but to amuse. This,” continued lie, " is one of the greatest arts of home enjoyment. That it is so little prac. tised accounts, in a good measure, for the undomestic turn of too many married persons. The man meets abroad with amusements, and the woman with attentions, to which they are not accustomed at home; whereas a capacity to please on the one part, and a disposition be pleased on the other, in their own house, would make most visits appear dull. A woman, whose education has been rehearsal, will always be dull, except she lives on the stage, constantly displaying what she has been sedulously acquiring. Books, on the contrary, well-chosen books, do not lead to eshibition. The knowledge a woman acquires in private desires no witnesses; it improves herself, it embellishes her family society, it entertains her husband, it informs her children. The gratification is cheap, is safe, is always to be had at home,” I. 169.

The art of poetry,” said Mr. Stanley, “is to touch the passions, and its duty to lead them on the side of virtue. To raise and purify the amusements of mankind, to multiply and exalt pleasures, which, being purely intellectual, may help to exclude such as are gross, in beings so addicted to sensuality, is surely not only to give pleasure, but to render service. It is surely allowable to seize every avenue to the heart of a being so prone to evil; to rescue him by every fair means not only from the degradation of vice, but the dominion of idleness.”-II. 18.

or

Did my

limits permit me, I might extend my quotations from the conversation of Mr. Stanley to many pages, all of this tenor, all breathing the same delightful spirit of sound sense, rational enjoyment, pure morality, and expansive benevolence. There is not in the whole book a single sentiment delivered by him, that warrants the charge of his being either“ paltry or narrow thinking no Christian safe who is not dull.” The charge is, like all the others, without even a shadow of foundation. To the candor of the reader I appeal, to decide upon the fair specimen which I have laid before him.

Mr. Stanley is a character of uncommon interest; as a father of a large family, on whose cultivation he devotes his care, and this on a system truly admirable, he calls forth the strongest sentiments of approbation from every reader. He is equally conspicuous in the character of a disinterested friend.

Lucilla is totally uninteresting." This is equally absurd with the rest.

Lucilla Stanley is an elegant young woman, of first rate respectability ; her every action displays beneficence and virtue-her every word benevolence, relinement, delicacy, and all that can charm or captivate, in that last and

“ Fairest piece of heaven's workmanship.” Her time is devoted to the superintendance of the family to the improvement of her mind—to spreading peace, happiness, and comfort

among the surrounding peasantry—to administering corporal relief to those whose physical wants require her aid--and to soothing the parting soul with

Religion's all-reviving strains."

And although I have not a romantic idea of human perfection, I fondly hope there are numbers to be found who tread the same blessed path, and many who arrive at the same degree of perfection.

Cælebs is a clod, a dolt.” After the proofs I have adduced of the folly or malice of the reviewer, I might pass this ridiculous charge over in silence: but I shall lay before the reader a few of the sentiments of Cælebs, to enable him to decide how far he deserves to be styled

a clod, a dolt.” When reflecting upon the choice of a wife,

com

“ In such a companion,” says he, “ I do not want a Helen, a Saint Cecilia, or a Madame Dacier. Yet she must be elegant, or I should not love her; sensible, or I should not respect her; prudent, or I should not confide in her; well-informed, or she could not educate my children; well-bred, or she could not entertain my friends ; consistent, or I should offend the shade of my mother; pious, or I should not be happy with ber; because the chief comfort in a companion for life is the delightful hope that she will be panion for eternity.

“ After this soliloquy I was frightened to think that so much was requisite : and yet when I began to consider in which article I could make any abatement, I was willing to persuade myself that my requisitions were moderate.”—Vol. I. p. 20.

The other family in which I thought I had secured an agreeable intimacy, I instantly deserted, on observing the gracious and engaging reception given by the ladies to more than one libertine of the most notorious profligacy. The men were handsome, and elegant, and fashionable ; and had figured in newspapers, and courts of justice. This degrading popularity had rather attracted than repelled attention ; and while the guilty associates in their crimes were shunned with abhorrerce by those very ladies, the specious undoers were not only received with complaisance, but there was a sort of competition who should be most strenuous in their endeavours to attract them. Surely wo. men of fashion can hardly make a more corrupt use of influence, a talent for which they will be peculiarly accountable. Surely mere personal purity can hardly deserve the name of virtue in those who can sanction notoriously vitious characters, whom their reprobation, if it could not reform, woult degrade."-Vol. I. p. 45.

What think you, reader, of those sentiments of Cælebs? Are they those of a dolt, a clod, or are they not the profound, just, and enlarged sentiments of a man of deep reflection, and most accurate discrimina

[ocr errors]

tion? Would they not add to the well-earned laurels of a Samuel Johnson, or a Benjamin Franklin? They are, be assured, of the same cast as those advanced throughout the work by the “ dolt” Calebs.

Philippics against frugivorous children after dinner are too common." This is sheer nonsense, and does not convey the idea, which the critic intended. He meant “philij pics against the devouring of fruit by children after dinner.” This is not the only instance that proves the critic was resolved to find subject of censure in every part of the work. The fact is, that Mr. Stanley was opposed to introducing a number of boisterous children to the guests afier dinner, to witness the bacchanalian scenes that then take place; to be forced to drink wine, and allowed to devour large quantities of fruit; besides disturbing the company by their clamour, as is too frequently the case. The children in his family were sent to the drawing-room with the ladies, who enjoyed their company, and held out no such temptation to excess as they would have met with in the dining-room. Let the candid reader decide between the amiable authoress, and her ill-natured Zoilus, on the correctness of this practice.

“ Lady Melbury has been introduced into every novel,”—yes, reader, “ into every novel for these four years last past.” So says the critic: this is equally correct and just with the rest.

There is hardly a character exactly like Mrs. Melbury, to be met with in any novel. But even if there were, what then? in a book intended to delineate human life and manners, it is impossible to follow nature, and have all the characters entirely new.

When I began, I intended to have gone into an examination of the whole of this critique, and to have pointed out its numerous errors, and total disregard of truth and justice. But I have already extended the subject so far, that I must pass over the chief part of the offensive matter, feeling confident that I have satisfied the reader, that Cælebs has been treated with very uncommon injustice. I proceed to a much more agreeable task, to add a few extracts from the work itself, to induce suclı of my readers as have not yet had the pleasure of perusing it, to avail themselves of the first opportunity that offers, of procuring such a treasure.

“ Let us endeavour to allure our youth of fashion from the low pleasures of the dissolute; to snatch them, not only from the destruction of the gaming table, but from the excesses of the dining table, by inviting them to an ele. gant delight that is safe, and especially by enlarging the pure range of mental pleasure.

• In order to do this, let us do all we can to cultivate their taste, and innocently indulge their fincy. Let us contend with impure writers, those

rectness.

deadliest enemies to the youthful mind, by opposing to them in the chaster authors, images more attractive, wit more acute, learning more various ; in all which excellencies our first rate poets certainly excel their yitious coinpetitors.”—Vol. ii. p. 19.

- Women, in their course of action, describe a smaller circle than men: but the perfection of a circle consists not in its dimensions, but in its cor

There may be here and there a soaring female, who looks down with disdain on the paltry affairs of “this dim speck, called earth”-who despises order and regularity as indications of a groveling spirit. But a sound mind judges differently. A sensible woman loves to imitate the order which is stamped upon the whole creation of God. All the operations of nature are regular even in their changes, and regular in their infinite variety. Nay, the great Author of nature himself disdains not to be called the God of order:"_Vol. ii.

p.

91, “ In our friends, even in our common acquaintance, do we not delight to associate with those whose pursuits have been similar to our own~and who have read the same books ? how dull do we find it when civility compels us to pass even a day with an illiterate man ? shall we not then delight in the kindred acquirements of a dearer friend? shall we not rejoice in a companion who has drawn, though less copiously, perhaps, from the same rich sources. with ourselves ? who can relish the beauty we quote, and trace the allusion at which we hint? I do not mean that learning is absolutely necessary : but a man of taste who has an ignorant wife, cannot, in her company, think his own thoughts, ņor speak his own language. His thoughts he will suppresshis language he will debase ; the one from hopelessness, the other from fear. He must be continually lowering and diluting his meaning, in order to make himself intelligible. This he will do for the woman he loves--but in doing it, he will not be happy. She who cannot be entertained by his conversation, will not be convinced by his reasoning: and at length he will find out, ihas it is less troublesome to lower his own standard to hers, than to eshaust him. self in the vain attempt to raise hers to his own."-Vol.ii. p. 120.

A man of sense, when all goes smootbly, wants to be entertained; una der vexation, to be soothed ; in difficulties, to be counselled; in sorrow to be coin forted."-Vol. i. p. 167.

“ The reading of a cultivated woman commonly occupies less time than the music of a musical woman; or the idleness of an indolent woman ; or the dress of a vain woman; or the dissipation of a fluttering woman. She is therefore more likely to have more leisure for her duties, as well as more inclination, and a sounder judgment for performing them.-Vol. i. 170.

"The woman, who, reposing under the laurels of her boasied virtue, aflows herself to be a disobliging, a peevish, a gloomy, or discontented companion, defeats one great end of the institution, which is happiness. The wife who violates the marriage vow, is indeed more criminal : but the very magnitude of her crime emancipates her husband : while she who makes

VOL. 15

« السابقةمتابعة »