« ForrigeFortsett »
original defect. Nature may have stretched the striny, though it has long ceased to vibrate. It may have been displaced and distracted by the first violence offered to the native machine ; it may have lost its tone through long disuse; or be so twisted and overstrained as to produce an effect very different from that which was primarily intended. If so little regard is paid to nature wlen she knocks so powerfully at the breast, she must be altogether neglected and despised in her calmer mood of serene tranquillity, when nothing appears to recommend her but simplicity, propriety, and innocence. A clear, blue sky, spangled with stars, will prove a homely and insipid object to eyes ac. customed to the glare of torches, tapers, gilding, and glitter: they will be turned with loathing and disgust from the green mantle of the spring, so gorgeously adorned with buds and foliage, flowers, and blossoms, to contemplate a gaudy negligee, striped and intersected with abrupt unfriendly tints, that fetter the masses of light, and distract the vision; and cut and pinked into the most fantastic forms; and flounced and furbelowed, patched and fringed with all the littleness of art, unknown to elegance. Those ears, that are offended by the sweetly wild notes of the thrush, the blackbird, and the nightingale, the distant cawing of the rook, the tender cooing of the turtle, the soft sighing of reeds and osiers, the magic murmur of lapsing streams, will be regaled and ravished by the ex. travagant and alarming notes of a squeaking fiddle, extracted by a musician, who has no other genius than that which lies in his fingers; they will even be entertained with the rattling of coaches, the rumbling of carts, and the delicate cry of cod and mackarel.
The sense of smelling that delights in the scent of excrementitious animal juices, such as musk, civet, and urinous salts, will loathe the fragrancy of new-mown hay, the lawthorn's bloom, the sweetbriar, the honeysuckle, and the rose; and the organs that are gratified with the taste of sickly veal which has been bled into the palsy, rotten pullets crammed into fevers, brawn made up of dropsical pig, the abortion of pigeons and of poultry, asparagus gorged with the crude unwholesome juice of dung, pease without substance, peaches without taste, and pine-apples without flavour, will certainly nauseate the native, genuine, and salutary taste of Welsh beef, Banstead mutton, Hampshire pork, and barn-door fowls, whose juices are concocted by a natural digestion, and whose flesh is consolidated by free air and exercise. In such a total perversion of the senses,
the ideas must be misrepresented, the powers of the imagination disordered, and the judgment of con. sequence unsound. The disease is attended with a false appetite, which the natural food of the mind will not satisfy. It must have sauces compounded of the most heterogeneous trash. The soul seems to sink into a kind of sleepy idiotism, or childish vacancy of thought. It is diverted by toys and baubles, which can only be pleasing to the most superficial curiosity. It is enlivened by a quick succession of trivial objects, that glisten, and glance, and dance before the eye; and, like an infant kept awake and inspirited by the sound of a rattle, it must not only be dazzled and aroused,
but also cheated, hurried, and perplexed by the artifice of deception, business, intricacy, and intrigue, which is a kind of low juggle that may be termed the legerdemain of genius. This being the case, it cannot enjoy, nor indeed distinguish, the charms of natural and moral beauty or decorum. The ingenuous blush of native innocence, the plain language of ancient faith and sincerity, the cheerful resignation to the will of Heaven, the mutual affection of the charities, the voluntary respect paid to superior dignity or station, the virtue of beneficence extended even to the brute creation, nay, the very crimson glow of health and swelling lines of beauty, are despised, detested, scorned, and ridiculed, as ignorance, rudeness, rusticity, and superstition.
REMARKS ON THE PREVAILING PASSION FOR
The passion for cards is now become so strangely predominant, as to take the lead of every thing else in almost every company of every rank. With many indeed it seems to be a calling, and, as a witty author has observed, “a laborious one too, such as they toil night and day at, nay do not allow themselves that remission which the laws both of God and man have provided for the meanest mechanic. The sabbath is to them no day of rest; but this trade goes on when all shops are shut. I know not,' continues he, how they satisfy themselves in such an habitual waste of their time; but I much doubt that plea, whatsoever it is, which passeth with them, will scarce hold weight at his tribunal who hath commanded us to redeem, not fling away, our time.'
To the same occupation what numbers sacrifice their health and spirits, with every natural pleasure that depends on these, not excepting even the comforts of fresh air; pursuing it in the country with the same unabating ardour as in town, and to all the beauty and sweetness of rural scenes, in the finest season, preferring the suffocating atmosphere of perhaps a small apartment, where they regularly, every day if possible, crowd round the card-table for hours together? What neglect of business and study, what ruin of credit, of fortune, of families, of connections, of all that is valuable in this world, often follows the frenzy I speak of, who can ex
I will suppose, my fair hearers, nay I do liope, that the demon of avarice has not yet taken possession of your hearts. But do ye know any thing so likely to introduce him, as the spirit of gaming ? Is not this last a kindred fiend; and does not he, like most other tempters, advance by slow steps, and with a smiling aspect? Tell me in sober sadness, what security can you have that the love of play will not lead you to the love of gaming ?
Between these I know there is a distinction; but is it not a distinction, at best, resembling that between twilight and darkness; and does not one succeed the other almost as naturally? The former at first is cheerful and serene, retaining some rays of pleasantry and good humour; but by little and little these disappear. A deepening
shade takes place; till at last, every emanation of mirth and good-nature dying away, all is involved in the gloom of anxiety, suspicion, envy, disgust, and every dreadful passion that lowers in the train of covetousness. I say not, that this always happens; but I ask again, what security is there that it will not happen to you? Did not every gamester in the world, whether male or female, begin just where you do? And is it not probable, that many of that infamous tribe had once as little apprehension as you can have, of proceeding those lengths to which they have since run, through the natural progress of vice, no where more infatuating or more rapid than in this execrable one ?
But let us suppose the desire of winning should in you never rise to that rage, which agitates the breast of many a fine lady, discomposes those features, and inflames those eyes, where nothing should be seen but soft illumination. Are there not lower degrees in the thirst of gain, which a liberal mind would ever carefully avoid? And pray consider, when, either by superior skill, or wh is called better luck, you happen to strip of her money, of that money which it is very possible she can ill spare, an acquaintance, a companion, a friend, one whom you profess at least to love and honour, perhaps at the very moment to entertain with all the sacred rites of hospitality—is there nothing unkind, nothing sordid, in giving way to that which draws after it such consequences ? Is this the spirit of friendship or humanity?-Blessed God! how does the passion I condemn deprave the worthiest affections of nature; and how does