Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

assured, that whoever wholly give themselves up to lust, will soon find it the least fault they are guilty of.

Irreconcilable hatred to those they have injured, mean shifts to cover their offences, envy and malice to the innocent, and a general sacrifice of all that is good-natured or praiseworthy when it interrupts them, will possess all their faculties, and make them utter strangers to the noble pleasures which flow from honour and virtue. Happy are they, who from the visitation of sickness, or any

other accident, are awakened from a course which leads to an insensibility of the greatest enjoyments in human life.

A French author, giving an account of a very agreeable man, in whose character he mingles good qualities and infirmities, rather than vices or virtues, tells the following story:

“ Our knight,” says he, “ was pretty much addicted to the most fashionable of all faults. He had a loose rogue for a lackey, not a little in his favour, though he had no other name for him when he spoke of him but. The rascal,' or, to him, but Sirrah.' One morning when he was dressing, “ Sirrah,' says he,“ be sure you bring home this evening a pretty wench.' The fellow was a person of diligence and capacity, and had for some time addressed himself to a decayed old gentlewoman, who had a young maiden to her daughter, beauteous as an angel, not yet sixteen years of age. The mother's extreme poverty, and the insinuations of this artful lackey concerning the soft disposition and generosity of his master, made her consent to deliver up her daughter. But many were the entreaties and representations of the mother to gain her child's consent to an action, which she said she abhorred, at the same time she exhorted her to it; but child,' says she, can you see your mother die for hunger ! The virgin argued no longer, but bursting into tears, said she would go any where. The lackey conveyed her with great obsequiousness and secrecy to his master's lodging, and placed her in a commodious apartment till he came home. The knight, who knew his man never failed of bringing in his prey, indulged his genius at a banquet, and was in high humour at an entertainment with ladies, expecting to be received in the evening by one as agreeable as the best of them. When he came home his lackey met him with a sauey and joyful familiarity, crying out, . She is as handsome as an angel (for there is no other simile on these occasions); 'but the tender fool has wept till her eyes are swelled and bloated: for she is a maid and a gentlewoman.' With that he conducted his master to the room where she was, and retired. The knight, when he saw her bathed in tears, said in some surprise, · Do not you know, young woman, why you are brought hither? The unhappy maid fell on her knees, and with many interruptions of sighs and tears, said to him, • I know, alas ! too well why I am brought hither; my mother, to get bread for her and myself, has sent me to do what you pleased; but would it would please Heaven I could die, before I am added to the number of those miserable wretches who live without honour! With this reflection she wept anew, and beat her bosom. The knight, stepping back from her, said, “I am not so abandoned as to hurt your innocence against your will.'

“The novelty of the accident surprised him into virtue; and, covering the young maid with a cloak, he led her to a relation's house, to whose care he recommended her for that night. The next morning he sent for her mother, and asked her if her daughter was a maid ? The mother assured him, that when she delivered her to his servant, she was a stranger to man. • Are not you then, replied the knight, 'a wicked woman to contrive the debauchery of your own child ? She held down her face with fear and shame, and in her confusion uttered some broken words concerning her poverty. Far be it,' said the gentleman,

that you should relieve yourself from want by a much greater evil : your daughter is a fine young creature; do you know of none that ever spoke of her for a wife?' The mother answered, “ There is an honest man in our neighbourhood that loves her, who has often said he would marry her with two hundred pounds.' The knight ordered his man to reckon out that sum, with an addition of fifty to buy the bride-clothes, and fifty more as a help to her mother."

I appeal to all the gallants in the town, whether possessing all the beauties in Great Britain could give half the pleasure as this young gentleman had in the reflection of having relieved a miserable parent from guilt and po

[ocr errors]

verty, an innocent virgin from public shame, and bestowing a virtuous wife upon an honest man?

Though all men who are guilty this way have not fortunes or opportunities for making such atonements for their vices, yet all men may do what is certainly in their power at this good season.* For my part, I do not care how ridiculous the mention of it may be, provided I hear it has any good consequence upon the wretched, that I recommend the most abandoned and miserable of mankind to the charity of all in prosperous conditions under the same guilt with those wretches. The Lock Hospital in Kentstreet, Southwark, for men : that in Kingsland for women, is a receptacle for all sufferers mangled by this iniquity. Penitents should in their own hearts take upon them all the shame and sorrow they have escaped; and it would become them to make an oblation for their crimes, by charity to those upon whom vice appears in that utmost misery and deformity, which they themselves are free from by their better fortune, rather than greater innocence. It would quicken our compassion in this case, if we considered there may be objects there, who would now move horror and loathing, that we have once embraced with transport: and as we are men of honour (for I must not speak as we are Christians) let us not desert our friends for the loss of their noses.

THI

N°18. WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1, 1713.

-Animæque capaces
Mortis-

LUCAN.
Souls, undismay'd by death.
THE prospect of death is so gloomy and dismal, that

if it were constantly before our eyes, it would embitter all the sweets of life. The gracious Author of our being hath therefore so formed us, that we are capable of many pleasing sensations and reflections, and meet with so many amusements and solicitudes, as divert our thoughts from dwelling upon an evil, which by reason of its seeming distance, makes but languid impressions upon the mind. But how distant soever the time of our death may be, since it is certain that we must die, it is necessary to allot some portion of our life to consider the end of it: and it is highly convenient to fix some stated times to meditate upon the final period of our existence here. The principle of self-love, as we are men, will make us inquire, what is like to become of us after our dissolution; and our conscience, as we are Christians, will inform us, that according to the good or evil of our actions here, we shall be translated to the mansions of eternal bliss or misery. When this is seriously weighed, we must think it madness to be unprepared against the black moment: but when we reflect that perhaps that black moment may be to-night, how watchful ought we to be!

* Viz. Lent.

I was wonderfully affected with a discourse I had lately with a clergyman of my acquaintance upon this head, which was to this effect: “ The consideration," said the good man, " that my being is precarious, moved me many years ago to make

resolution, which I have diligently kept, and to which I owe the greatest satisfaction that a mortal man can enjoy. Every night before I address myself in private to my Creator, I lay my hand upon my heart, and ask myself, whetheraf God should require my soul of me this night, I could hope for mercy from him? The bitter agonies I underwent in this my first acquaintance with myself were so far from throwing me into despair of that mercy which is over all God's works, that they rather proved motives to greater circumspection in my future conduct. The oftener I exercised myself in meditations of this kind, the less was my anxiety; and by making the thoughts of death familiar, what was at first so terrible and shocking is become the sweetest of my enjoyments. These contemplations have indeed made me serious, but not sullen; nay, they are so far from having soured my temper, that as I have a mind perfectly composed, and a secret spring of joy in my heart, so my conversation is pleasant, and my countenance serene. I taste all the innocent satisfactions of life pure and sincere; I have no share in pleasures that leave a sting behind them, nor am I cheated with that kind of mirth, in the midst of which there is heaviness.”

Of all the professions of men, a soldier's chiefly should put him upon this religionis vigilance. His duty exposes him to such hazards, that the evil which to mèn in other

VOL. I.

H

stations may seem far distant, to him is instant and ever before his eyes. The consideration, that what men in a martial life purchase is gained with danger and labour, and must perhaps be parted with very speedily, is the cause of much licence and riot. As moreover it is necessary to keep up the spirits of those who are to encounter the most terrible dangers, offences of this nature meet with great indulgence. But there is a courage better founded than this animal fury. The secret assurance that all is right within, that if he falls in battle, he will the more speedily be crowned with true glory, will add strength to a warrior's arm, and intrepidity to his heart.

One of the most successful stratagems whereby Mahomet became formidable, was the assurance that impostor gave his votaries, that whoever was slain in battle should be immediately conveyed to that luxurious paradise his wanton fancy had invented. The ancient Druids taught a doctrine which had the same effect, though with this difference from Mahomet’s, that the souls of the slain should transmigrate into other bodies, and in them be rewarded according to the degrees of their merit. This is told by Lucan with his usual spirit :

“ You teach that souls, from fleshy chains unbound,
Seek not pale shades and Erebus profound,
But fleeting hence to other regions stray,
Once more to mix with animated clay;
Hence death's a gap (if men may trust the lore)
Twixt lives behind and ages yet before.
A blest mistake! which fate's dread power disarms;
And spurs its votries on to war's alarms;
Lavish of life, they rush with fierce delight
Amidst the legions, and provoke the fight ;
O'er-matching death, and freely cast away

That loan of life the gods are bound to pay. Our gallant countryman, Sir Philip Sidney, was a noble example of courage and devotion. I am particularly pleased to find that he hath translated the whole book of Psalms into English verse. A friend of mine informs me, that he hath the manuscript by him, which is said in the title to have been done “ By the most noble and virtuous Gent. Sir Philip Sidney, Knight.” They having been never printed, I shall present the public with one of them, which "my correspondent assures me he hath faithfully tran

« ElőzőTovább »