« ForrigeFortsett »
sequences are truly alarming. When every distinction is removed between the woman of virtue and the prostitute; when both are treated with equal attention and observance; are we to wonder if we find an alteration of the manners of the women in general, and a proportional diminution of that delicacy which forms the distinguishing characteristic of the respectable part of the sex?
These considerations will, I hope, prove sufficient to correct this abuse in our young gentlemen. As to my fair countrywomen, it is ever with reluctance that I am obliged to take notice of any
little impropriety into which they inadvertently fall. Let them, however, reflect, that a certain delicacy of sentiment and of manners is the chief ornament of the female character, and the best and surest guardian of female honour. That once removed, there will remain less difference than perhaps they may be aware of, beween them and the avowedly licentious.
Let them also consider, that, as it is unquestionably in their power to form and correct the manners of the men, so they are, in some sort, accountable, not for their own conduct only, but also for that of their admirers.
« TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR. • I do not mean to reflect, Mr. Mirror; for that is your business, not mine; far less do I purpose to pun, when I tell you, that it might save some reflections upon yourself, did you take the trouble to translate into good common English those same Latin scraps, or mottos, which you sometimes hang out by way of a sign-post inscription at the top of your paper. For consider, Sir, who will be tempted to enter a house of entertainment offered to the public, when the majority can neither read nor understand the language in which the bill of fare is drawn and held out? I am a Scotsman of a good plain stomach, who can eat and digest any thing ; yet I should like to have a guess at what was to be expected before I sit down to table. Besides, the fair ser, Mr. Mirror, for whom you express so much respect, --what shall they do? Believe me, then, Sir, by complying with this hint, you will not only please the ladies, but now and then save a blush in their company to some grown gentlemen, who have not the good fortune to be so learned as yourself. Amongst
the rest, you will oblige one who has the honour to be
Your admirer and humble servant, Edinburgh, Feb. 19, 1779.
Mr. Ignoramus (whom I take to be a wiser man than he gives himself out for) must have often observed many great personages contrive to be unintelligible in order to be respected.-E.
N 10. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 1779.
Id arbitror Adprimè in vità esse utile, ut ne quid nimis.-Ter. REFINEMENT, and Delicacy of Taste, are the productions of advanced society. They open to the mind of persons possessed of them a field of elegant enjoyment; but they may be pushed to a dangerous extreme. By that excess of sensibility to which they lead; by that vanity which they flatter ; that idea of superiority which they nourish; they may unfit their possessor for the common and ordinary enjoyments of life ; and, by that too great niceness which they are apt to create, they may mingle somewhat of disgust and uneasiness even in the highest and finest pleasures. A person of such a mind will often miss happiness where nature intended it should be found, and seek for it where it is not to be met with. Disgust and chagrin will frequently be his companions, while less cultivated minds are enjoying pleasure unmixed and unalloyed.
I have ever considered my friend Charles Fleetwood to be a remarkable instance of such a character. Mr. Fleetwood has been endowed by nature with a most feeling and tender heart. Educated to no particular profession, his natural sensibility has been increased by a life of inactivity, chiefly employed in reading, and the study of the polite arts, which has given him that excess of refinement I have described above, that injures while it captivates.
Last summer I accompanied him in an excursion into the country. Our object was partly air and exercise, and partly to pay a visit to some of our friends.
Our first visit was to a college-acquaintance, remarkable for that old-fashioned hospitality which still prevails in some parts of the country, and which too often degenerates into excess. Unfortunately for us, we found with our friend a number of his jovial companions, whose object of entertainment was very different from our's.
Instead of wishing to enjoy the pleasures of the country, they expressed their satisfaction at the meeting of so many old acquaintance; because they said it would add to the mirth and sociableness of the party. Accordingly, after a long, and somewhat noisy, dinner, the table was covered with bottles and glasses ; the mirth of the company rose higher at every new toast; and though their drinking did not proceed quite the length of intoxication, the convivial festivity was drawn out, with very little intermission, till it was
time to go to bed. Mr. Fleetwood's politeness prevented him from leaving the company; but I, who knew him, saw he was inwardly fretted at the manner in which his time was spent during a fine even-ing, in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. The mirth of the company, which was at least innocent, was lost upon him: their jokes hardly produced a smile; or, if they did, it was a forced one : even the good humour of those around him, instead of awakening his benevolence, and giving him a philanthropical pleasure, increased his chagrin; and the louder the company laughed, the graver did I think Mr. Fleetwood's countenance became.
After having remained here two days, our time being spent pretty much in the manner I have described, we went to the house of another gentleman in the neighbourhood. A natural soberness of mind, accompanied with a habit of industry, and great attention to the management of his farm, would save us, we knew, from any thing like riot or intemperance in his family. But even here I found Mr. Fleetwood not a whit more at his ease than in the last house. Our landlord's ideas of politeness made him think it would be want of respect to his guests if he did not give them constant attendance. Breakfast, therefore, was no sooner removed, than, as he wished to visit his farm, he proposed a walk : we set out accordingly, and our whole morning was spent in crossing dirty fields, leaping ditches and hedges, and hearing our landlord discourse on drilling and horsehoeing; of broad-cast and summer-fallow; of manuring, ploughing, draining, &c. Mr. Fleetwood, who had scarcely ever read a theoretical book upon farming, and was totally ignorant of the practice, was teased to death with this conversation; and returned home covered with dirt, and worn out with fatigue. After pinner the family economy did not allow the least
approach to a debauch ; and, as our landlord had exhausted his utmost stock of knowledge and conversation in remarks upon his farm, while we were not at all desirous of repeating the entertainment of the morning, we passed a tasteless, lifeless, yawning afternoon ; and, I believe, Mr. Fleetwood would have willingly exchanged the dulness of his present company, for the boisterous mirth of the last he had been in.
Our next visit was to a gentleman of a liberal education and elegant manners, who, in the earlier part of his life, had been much in the polite world. Here Mr. Fleetwood expected to find pleasure and enjoyment sufficient to atone for the disagreeable occurrences in his two former visits; but here, too, he was disappointed. Mr. Selby, for that was our friend's name, had been several years married : his family increasing, he had retired to the country; and, renouncing the bustle of the world, had given himself up to domestic enjoyments: his time and attention were devoted chiefly to the care of his children. The pleasure which himself felt in humouring all their little fancies, made him forget how troublesome that indulgence might be to others. The first morn. ing we were at his house, when Mr. Fleetwood came into the parlour to breakfast, all the places at table were occupied by the children; it was necessary that one of them should be displaced to make room for him ; and, in the disturbance which this occasioned, a tea-cup was overturned, and scalded the finger of Mr. Selby's eldest daughter, a child about seven years old, whose whimpering and complaining attracted the whole attention during breakfast. That being over, the eldest boy came forward with a book in his hand, and Mr. Selby asked Mr. Fleetwood to hear him read his lesson: Mrs. Selby joined in the request, though both looked as if they were rather