صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

sequently mutual aid and support, which are the
life-spring of society. It must not, however, be over-
looked, that love, arising merely from a sense of
beauty, tends to injure the interests of society; it
then becomes excessive, and loses its social character,
because the desire of gratification becomes ungovern-
able, and violently rushes to its consummation, regard-
less of the misery that must inevitably follow. Love,
under such a state of mind, is no longer a sweet
agreeable passion; it becomes painful, like hunger
or thirst; and produces no happiness, but in the
moment of fruition. This suggests an important les-
son, which is, that moderation in our desires, whilst
it fits us for our duty, contributes at the same time
most essentially to our happiness; since even the
social passions, when moderately indulged, are ten
times more delightful than when unlimitedly gra-
tified.
Montaigne thus expresses his ideas on beauty :-
* " 'Tis not your beauty I admire,

Nor the bright star-light of each eie,
Nor do I from their beams take fire
My love's torch to enlighten, I :

No, 'tis a glorie more divine

Kindles my tapour at your shrine.
Your comely presence takes not me,

Nor your much-more inviting meen;
Nor your sweet looks; tho' graces be,
Fair creature! in your picture seen.

No: 'tis your soul to which I bow,

'Tis none of these I love,-but you.
How blind is that pbilosophie

Doth onely nat'ral bodies know?
That views each orb o'th' glorious skie,
But sees not him that made it so.

I love thy informing part, i'th' whol,

And every part, thy all; thy soul.” “Let me particularly caution the fair sex against a fondness for excessive finery. Elegant simplicity is the decoration which best exhibits nature's modest charms. Loose and gaudy attire are meretricious ornaments, to conceal defects of nature, and to insnare

the minds of inexperienced beholders; for why do women array themselves in such fantastical dresses, and quaint devices, with gold, with silver, with coronets, with pendants, bracelets, ear-rings, chains, rings, pins, spangles, embroideries, versi-colour ribands, feathers, fans, masks, furs, laces, tiffanies, ruffs, falls, calls, cuffs, damasks, velvets, tassels, golden cloth, silver tissue, precious stones, stars, flowers, birds, beasts, fishes, crisped locks, wigs, painted faces, bodkins, settingsticks, cork, whalebone, sweet odours, and whatsoever else Africa, Asia, and America, sea, land, art, and industry, can produce; flaying their faces, to procure the fresher complexion of a new skin, and using more time in dressing than Cæsar took in marshalling his army, but that, like cunning falconers, they wish to spread false lures to catch unwary larks ; and lead, by their gaudy baits, and meretricious charms, the minds of inexperienced youths into the traps of heroic Love!"

Loveliness
Needs not the foreign aid of ornament;

But is, when unadorn'd, adorn'd the most! “Let them (says the good and pious Tertullian) paint their eyes with tints of chastity, insert into their ears the word of God, tie the yoke of Christ around their necks, and adorn their whole persons with the silk of sanctity, and the damask of devotion ; let them adopt that chaste and simple, that neat and elegant style of dress, which so advantageously displays the charms of real beauty, instead of those preposterous fashions, and fantastical draperies of dress, which, wbile they conceal some few defects of person, expose so many defects of mind, and sacrifice to ostentatious finery, all those mild, amiable, and modest virtues, by which the female character is so pleasingly adorned.”

Ah! why so fantastic and vain ?

What charms can the toilette supply ?
Why so studious admirers to gain ?

Need beauty lay traps for the eye?
Oh! cannot their hearts be at rest,

Unless they're exceedingly fair?

For beauty to be so high drest,

Is surely superfluous care.
Embarrass'd with baubles and toys,

They appear so enormously fine,
That dress all its purpose destroys,

By shewing their art and design.
O think how sweet beauty beguiles,

How alluring the innocent eye !
What sweetness in natural smiles,

What charms in simplicity lie ! For females to set off their charms by the help of exterior decoration and address, is not only natural, but laudable, provided it be done with simplicity and delicacy. - It is only the glare of ostentation which is censurable, the harlotry of artificial blushes. The fairest forms in nature ought surely to have every honest advantage; but let them be adorned with dignity and ease. Let not finery be mistaken for elegance, or formality for politeness. Had the life of women been chiefly designed for the embellishment of society, the showy outside had been well adapted to it. But the case is far otherwise. The calls of a family are too serious to be postponed for trifles ; too pressing to be deferred from day to day; and too various not to demand the most unwearied activity. For this great variety of cares, which requires no depth of thought, the female mind seems most happily formed. More lively than penetrating, and more rapid than contemplative, it can easily turn from moral and religious studies and occupations, to the elegant or ornamental accomplishments; and from the ornamental accomplishments, to the management of a family; and, if not immoderately occupied by either, can attend to all with equal felicity.

Dear Julia, veil thy bosom, pray,
Nor cast blest virtue's shield away :
Let baneful fashion ne'er displace
The modest blush, so wont to grace
That sweet, that fascinating face!
Thy charms were never meant to prove
Attractive, save to virtuous love!

Thy ev'ry grace was given t'inspire
No earthly wish, but chaste desire.
Remember that the sweetest flow'r
Must perish by exposure's pow'r !
If winter's blast destroys at will,
The blast of scandal's keener still!
Such outward signs, too oft we find,
Are class'd as emblems of the mind;
While the impressions they impart,
Allure the
eye, but never gain the heart.

HALL.

It is recorded of Gomesius, a Florentine gentleman, that he was grievously deceived in the choice of a wife by her outward trappings. Radiantly set out with rings, jewels, lawns, scarfs, laces, gold, and every gaudy device, he imagined, having never seen her but by torch-light, that she was a perfect goddess; but when, after the wedding solemnities, he viewed her the ensuing morning without her tires, in a clear day, she appeared so horribly deformed, lean, yellow, and shrivelled, that he could not endure to look on her. Like an Egyptian temple, she was fair without, but decayed within.

Excessive dress becomes most highly ridiculous when used to conceal the ravages of time. Emonez, an old woman of Chios, thinking, by the finery of her dress, to acquire the beauty of which time and nature had deprived her, went to Arcesilaus the philosopher, and asked him whether it was possible for a wise man to be in love. Yea, verily, (replied he,) but not with an artificial and counterfeit beauty, like thine.” But these reproofs have not restrained the practice.

All drive away despair;
And those who in their youth were scarce thought fair,
In spite of age, experience, and decays,
Set up for charming in their fading days;
Snuff their dim eyes, to give a parting blow

To the soft heart of some observing beau. Cornelia, the justly celebrated Roman matron, the mother of the Gracchi, and daughter of Scipio Africanus, being accidentally in company with a finedressed lady, whose jewelled garments were her only

pride, and the sole subject of her conversation, the high-dressed dame, displaying her finery, challenged the virtuous matron to produce, if possible, a finer robe, or a richer dress. The amiable Cornelia pitied, but amused her vain and insulting companion, until her children returned from school, when she presented them to her as the richest jewels an affectionate mother would wish to possess; and by this happy thought evinced her own superior merit, whilst she mortified the malicious vanity of her bedizened competitor.

CHAP. VI.

THE PLEASURES OF LOVE-continued.

Love's a child of phansie's getting,

Brought up between Hope and Fear,
Fed with smiles, grown by uniting

Strong, and so kept by desire :
'Tis a perpetual vestal fire,

Never dying,
Whose smoak like incense doth aspire,

Upwards flying.
It is a soft magnetick stone,

Attracting hearts by sympathie,
Binding up close two souls in one,

Both discoursing secretlie :
'Tis the true gordian knot that ties,

Yet ne'er unbinds;
Fixing thus two lover's eies

As wel as minds.
'Tis the spheres' heavenly harmonie,

When two skilful hands do strike;
And every sound expressively

Marries sweetly with the like :
'Tis the world's everlasting chain

That all things tid,
And bid them, like the fixed wain,
Unmoy'd to bide.

MONTAIGNE.

« السابقةمتابعة »