صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

disappointed in that first effort, he retires, like the tyger who has missed his spring, and requires a long interval of repose to recruit his scattered ferocity.

The radical and incurable defects of the Turkish character proceed in my opinion from their religion. All attempts of a legislature to define exactly, not merely what is vice and what is virtue, but also the daily and hourly duties of the man and the citizen, may form a peculiar and separate people, a nation of Jews or of Turks; but, once formed, that nation remains for ever incapable of improvement. Such is the defect of the Koran. Its simple precepts, its strict prohibitions, were well calculated to bind together the wandering tribes of the desert, but become too minute in some instances, and too desultory in others, when considered as the sole code of laws for an immense empire. Swathing-clothes may strengthen the child, but, if not timely removed, effectually prevent its becoming a man. Mohammed fixed at once the inoraļ limits of his people. He sketched no faint outline; but, on the contrary, marked it with so strong a hand, that the line of distinction is for ever drawn, not merely between the Turk and the Christian, but between the Turk and the philosopher. It is impossible to be a, true Mussulman and a lover and cultivator of those arts and sciences which adorn and exalt mankind. The Koran must be laid aside before the sources of real knowledge can be opened; the Englishman, the Gaul, the German, and the Russian, may each preserve the characteristic manners and custoins of his country, and be a Christian ; but the Jew or the Turk must be absolutely the same in all climates.

It is impossible to survey the present condition of the Greeks without pity, or their character without some contempt. Like their ancestors, they are still fond of throwing the disc or quoit; like them, the olive still forms a material article of their food. But the pleasing delusion can be carried no further. On longer and closer intimacy, we find the modern Greek smooth but deceitful; boasting but cowardly; vain yet abject, and cringing under the most insulting tyranny; light and capricious without invention ; talkative without information; and equally bigoted with the Spaniard or Italian, but without the saine real warmth of devotion to excuse it.

“ There is no doubt but that the glories of his ancestors serve, by the contrast, to render his vices more pre

minent. Had we not been early taught to admire Grecian courage, wisdom, and talents, we might look upon the mealiness of the present race with less emotioni. But who can think, without regret, that the descendants of the conquerors of Marathon are cowards and slaves ; that for so many centuries not a single poet has arisen in the country of Homer; and that the place of Plato and the philosophers is supplied by ignorant priests; and of their scholars, by a still more ignorant people? The Greeks of this day present, in their moral character, the saine spectacle as that of a man to whom Heaven has granted the doubtful blessing of very long life. But, however debased in a moral point of view, the Greeks still retain much of what we may suppose to have been their former physical character. Few amongst them are deformed or ugly; but, on the contrary, those from the Morea and the western islands of the Archipelago are in general remarkably stout, with broad shoulders and thick necks; whilst those of the other islands, and from Constantinople, Smyrna, and the coasts of Asia, supply by the elegance what is deficient in the strength of their make. Their physiognomies are expressive, but still less 80 than those of the Turks ; and the women, when young, are generally beautiful and sprightly, but their beauty is of short duration. They are fond of wearing flowers on their head; and a robe sitting close to the body, and flowing loose behind, form the Asiatic part of dress, the remainder being very similar to that used by women in England or France. The men dress in short jackets and vests, with loose trowsers, which come just below the knee; and the commou people, like the Turks, have their legs bare, with only a pair of slippers on the feet. They seldom shave the upper lip; which, with their bushy hair, and a little red cap on the crown of their heads, serves often to give them a wild look, but never a dignified or martial air,

Even Turkish oppression, however, cannot entirely destory the natural cheerfulness of their dispositions inspired by the fine climate under which they live. They are fond of songs and dancing; and there are few, even of their smallest vessels, which have not on board at least die musician, furnished with a small violin or rebeck, and sometimes the Spanish guitar. L'pon these, when becalmned amongst the islands, or sailing with light breezes along the coast of Greece, they play wild, and often not

unpleasing, airs ; when a favourite tune is touched, the mariners join their voices in concert. The first part of the English tune of God save the King' is very popular with the Greeks at Smyrna; but the second is either beyond their abilities, or not suited to their taste. It is said, indeed, that they seldom retain the second part of any European tune."

LOVE IN MANY MASKS.

[ocr errors]

It is difficult, in every period of life, to inspire a real passion : but it is easy to make most women conceive a momentary one: many things contribute to this : a fine figure; the appearance of strength and vigour; the graces; wit, or the reputation of it; complaisance; and, often, a decided tone, and light manners; ambitious ideas; and, finally, interested views. With so many resources, it is almost impossible that every one should not find means to gratify his inclinations during his youth; but, in a riper age, it is necessary to fix the affections." "If we will not renounce every species of gallantry, it is necessary to accus tom ourselves early to the sweet habitude of living with one whom we love and esteem ; without wbich, we fall into the most gloomy apathy, or insupportable agitation. The habitude of which I speak is more agreeable and solid when founded upon the permanent affections of the mind; but this is not so absolutely necessary as not to be dispensed with. It is certain that the cares of a woman are always more agreeable to an old man than those of a relation or friend of his own sex ; it seems to be the wish and intention of nature that the two sexes should live and die together.

We become insensible of a settled habitude ; and, as we do not perceive that a mistress grows old, and becomes less handsome, we do not observe that her way of thinking becomes our own, and our reason subjected to hers, though sometimes less enlightened. We insensibly sacrifice our fortune to her; and this is a necessary consequence of the resignation we have made of our reason.

Men sometimes pass over the infidelities of women, because they are not perfectly convinced of them, and that a blind confidence is a necessary consequence of their seduction : hut if, unfortunately, they come to the knowledge of them, it is impossible for a man, sincerely

attached to a woman, not to be susceptible of jealousy. This jealousy takes a tinge of the character of the pera son who is affected with it. The mild man becomes affiicted, falls ill, and dies, if a repentance, which he is always disposed to believe sincere, does not console him : the choJeric man breaks out into rage; and, in the first moments, it is not known how far this may carry him; but men of this disposition are soonest appeased, and most frequently to be deceived.

Pecuniary interest should never be the basis of an amorous connection; it renders it shameful, or at least sus. picious: money, says Montaigne, being the source of concubinage. But when a tender union is well formed, interest, like sentiment, becomes common; every thing is mu. tual; and there is but one fortune for two sincere lovers. If they be equally honest, and incapable of making a bad use of it, this is just and natural; but frequently the complaisance of one makes him or her partake too much of the misfortunes and errors of the other.

Love should never have any thing to do with affairs : it ought to live on pleasures only: but how is it possible to resist the solicitations of a beloved object, who, though she ought not to participate in atlairs which she has not prudence or courage enough to manage, yet having always, for a pretext, her interest in your reputation, welfare, and happiness, how is it possible to resist an amiable woman, who attacks with such weapons ?

Some ladies have a real, others a borrowed reputation; that of the first is pure and unspotted, founded on the principles of religion, consequently the only genuine one; it belongs to women really attached to their duty, and who have never failed in the least point of it, whether they have had the good fortune to love their husbands, who have returned their affection; or whether, by an ettort of virtue, they have been faithful to a man whom they have not loved nor were beloved by.. There is another reputation, unknown to religion, which delicate morality, although purely human, does not admit, but which the world, more indulgent, will sometimes accept as good ; that founded upon the good choice of lovers, or, rather, of a lover, for multiplicity is always indecent. We are so disposed to think that each loves his likeness, that we judge of the character of men and women by those of their own sex with whom they have formed an intimacy; but infinitely more by the persons for whom they coćceive'a serious attachmeut. Many a inau of wit has established the reputation of his mistress, without composing madrigals for her, but by making kuown the passion with which she had inspired him; many a woman of merit has created or established the reputation of him whom she has adopted her chevalier. After all, it is more dan. gerous to solicit than to decline this kind of reputation : it happens more frequently that a man loses himself by making a bad choice, than he adds to his fame by making a good one.

If the public are indulgent to the attachments of simple individuals, they are much more so to those of kings, and people in place, when they think them real, and do not suspect in them either ambition, intrigue, or motives of interest. All France approved of the love of Charles VII. for Agnes Sorel, because she had the courage to say to this prince, that, unless he recovered his kingdom, he was not worthy of her affection. The Parisians applauded the love of Henry IV. for La i elle Gabrielle, and sung with pleasure the songs this monarch made for her ; becanise, knowing her to be handsome, and of a good disposition, they imagined she would inspire the King with sentiments of benevolence.

Never did a woman love a man more sincerely than Madame de la Valliere loved Lewis XIV. She never quitted him but for God alone ; and, swelled with vanity as that monarch was, he could not complain of this rivality; so much the less, as the Supreme Being bad but the remains of the heart of his mistress, and perhaps never possessed it entirely.

I have heard an avecdote of Madame de la Valliere, which I do not remember to have seen in print. This lady was so modest, and had so little ambition, that she had never told the king she had a brother, much less had she ever asked any favour for him. Hewas still young, and had made his first campaign among the cadets of the king's household. Lewis XIV. reviewny his troops, saw his mistress smile in a friendly manner at a young man, who, on his part, bowed to her with an air of familiarity, Iu the evening, the King asked, in a severe and irritated tone of voice, who this young man was. Madame de la Valliere was at first confused, but afterwards told his Majesty it was her brother. The King, having assured

« السابقةمتابعة »