صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

pise those whom want of taste or fpirits suffers to grow rich. It were happy if the prisons of the kingdom were filled only with characters like these, men whom profperity could not make useful, and whom ruin cannot make wise: but there are among us many who raise different sensations, many that owe their present misery to the seductions of treachery, the strokes of casualty, or the tenderness of pity; many whose sufferings ditgrace society, and whose virtues would adorn it: of these, when familiarity shall have enabled me to recount their stories without horror, you may expect another narrative from,

SIR,

T

Your most humble servant,

MISAG YR US.

No. LIV. Saturday, May 12, 1753.

Senhm labefacta cadebat

Religio

CLAUDIANUS.

His confidence in heav'n Sunk by degrees

IF a recluse moralist, who fpeculates in a cloyster, should suppose every practice to be infamous in proportion as it is allowed to be criminal, no man would wonder : but every man who is acquainted with life, and is able to substitute the discoveries of experience for the deductions of reason, knows that he would be mistaken.

Lying is generally allowed to be less criminal than adultery; and yet it is known to render a man much more infamous and contemptible ; for he who would modestly acquiesce in an imputation of adultery as a compliment, would resent that of a lie as an insult, for which life only could atone. Thus are men tamely led hoodwinked by custom, the creature of their own folly, and while imaginary light flashes under the bandage which excludes the reality, they fondly believe that they behold the fun.

Lying

F 3

Lying, however, does not incur more infamy than it deserves, though other vices incur less. I have before remarked, that there are some practices, which, though they degrade a man to the lowest class of moral characters, do yet imply some natural superiority; but lying is, on the contrary, always an implication of weaknefs and defect. Slander is the revenge of a coward, and diffimulation his defence ; lying boasts are the ftigma of im. potent ambition, of obscurity without merit, and pride totally destitute of intellectual dignity: and even lies of apology imply indiscretion or rusticity, ignorance, folly, or indecorum.

But there is equal turpitude, and yet greater meannefs, in those forms of speech which deceive without direct falsehood. The crime is committed with greater deliberation, as it requires more contrivance; and by the offenders the use of language is totally perverted : they conceal a meaning opposite to that which they ex. press; their speech is a kind of riddle propounded for an evil purpose ; and as they may, therefore, be properly distinguished by the name of Sphinxes, there would not perhaps be much cause for regret, if, like the first monster of the name, they should break their necks upon the solutica of their enigmas.

Indirect lies more effectually than others destroy that mutual confidence, which is said to be the band of society: they are more frequently repeated, because they are not prevented by the dread of detection: and he who has obtained a virtuous character is not always believed, because we know.not but that he

may

have been persuaded by the fophiftry of folly, that to deceive is not to lie, and that there is a certain manner in which

truth

truth may be violated without incurring either guilt or shame.

But lying however practised, does, like every other vice, ultimately disappoint its own purpose: “ A lying

tongue is but for a moment." Detraction, when it is discovered to be false, confers honour, and dissimulation provokes resentment; the false boast incurs contempt, and the false apology aggravates the offence.

Is it not, therefore, astonishing, that a practice, for whatever reason, fo universally infamous and unsuccessful, should not be more generally and fcrupulously avoided ? To think, is to renounce it: and, that I may fix the attention of my readers a little longer upon the fubject, I shall relate a story, which, perhaps, by those who have much sensibility, will not foon be forgotten.

Charlotte and Maria were educated together at an eminent boarding-school near London : there was little difference in their age, and their personal accomplishments were equal: but though their families were of the same rank, yet, as Charlotte was an only child, the was considerably superior in fortune.

Soon after they were taken home, Charlotte was ad. dressed by Captain Freeman, who, besides his commissfion in the guards, had a small paternal estate : but as her friends hoped for a more advantageous match, the Captain was desired to forbear his vifits, and the lady to think of him no more. After some fruitless struggles they acquiesced; but the discontent of both was so apparenț, that it was thought expedient to remove Miss

She was sent to her aunt, the Lady Meadows, who, with her daughter, lived retired at the family seat, more than one hundred miles distant from the metropolis. After she had repined in this dreary fo

litud

[ocr errors]

into the country.

F4

litude from April to Auguft, she was surprised with a visit from her father, who brought with him Sir James Forrest, a young gentleman who had just succeeded to a baronets title, and a very large estate in the same county. Sir James had good-nature and good-fense, an agreeable person, and an easy address: Miss was insenfibly pleased with his company; her vanity, if not her love, had a new object; a desire to be delivered from a ftate of dependence and obfcurity, had almost absorb. ed all the rest ; and it is no wonder that this defire was gratified, when scarce any other was felt; or that in compliance with the united folicitations of her friends, and her lover, she fuffered herself within a few weeks to become a lady and a wife. They continued in the country till the beginning of October, and then came up to London, having prevailed upon her aunt to accompany them, that Miss Meadows, with whom the bride had contracted an intimate friendship, might be gratified with the diversions of the town during the winter.

Captain Freeman, when he heard that Miss Charlotte was married, immediately made proposals of marriage to Maria, with whom he became acquainted dur ing his visits to her friend, and soon after married her.

The friendship of the two young ladies seemed to be rather increased than diminished by their marriage; they were always of the same party both in the private and public diversions of the season, and visited each other without the formalities of messages and dress.

But neither Sir James nor Mrs. Freeman could reflect without uneasiness upon the frequent interviews which this familiarity and confidence produced between lover and his mistress, whom force only had divided ;

and

« السابقةمتابعة »