Page images
PDF
EPUB

est happiness. Nature has not been so lavish of her charms, as to her sister; but she has a soft pleasiog countenance, that plainly indicates the goodness of her heart. Her persoa is not striking at first, but as it becomes familiar to the beholder, is more so than that of her sister. For her modest deportment, and her sweet disposition, will daily gain ground on any person who has the happiness of conversing with her. She reads much and digests what she reads. Her serenity of mind is not to be disturbed by the disappointment of a party of pleasure, nor her spirit agitated by the shape of a cap, or the colour of a ribbon. She speaks but little when in company, but when she does, every one is hush, and attends to her as an oracle ; and she has one true friend with whom she passes her days in tranquility. The reader may easily judge, which of these two sisters are the most amiable.

Section IV.

CHARACTER OF A YOUNG LADY.

Sophia is not a beauty, but in her presence beauties are discontented with themselves. At first, she scarcely appears pretty ; but the more she is beheld, the more agreeable she appears. She gains where others lose, and what she gains she never loses. She is equalled by none in a sweet expression of countenance, and without dazzling beholders, she interests them. She loves dress, and is a good judge of it ; despises finery, but dresses with peculiar grace, mixing simplicity with elegance. Ignorant she is of what colours are in fashion ; but knows well what suits her complexion. She covers her beauties ; but so slightly, or rather artfully, as to give play to the imagination. She prepares herself for managing a family of her own, by managing that of her father. Cookery is familiar to her, with the price and quality of provision,

and she is a ready accountant. Her chief view, how. ever, is to serve her mother and lighten her cares. She holds cleanness and neatness to be indispensible in a woman ; and that a slattern is disgusting, especially if beautiful.

The attention given to externals, does not make her overlook her more material duties. Sophia's understanding is solid, without being profound. Her sensibility is too great for a perfect quality of tem, per; but her sweetness renders that inequality harmless. A harsh word does not make her angry ; but her heart swells, and she retires to disburden it by weeping. Recalled by her father and mother, she comes at the instant, wiping her eyes and appearing cheerful. She suffers with patience for any wrong she has done, and does it so cordially as to make it appear meritorious. If she happens to disoblige a companion, her joys and her caresses when restored to favour, show the burden that lay upon her heart.

The love of virtue is Sophia's ruling passion. She loves it because no other thing is so lovely : she loves it, because it is the glory of the female sex : she loves it as the only road to happiness, misery being the sure attendant of a woman without virtue; she loves it, as dear to her respectable father and mother. These sentiments inspire her with a degree of enthusiasm, that elevates her soul, and subdues every ira regular appetite.

Of the absent she never talks but with circumspec: tion, her female acquaintance especially. She has remarked, that what rendered women prone to detraction, is talking of their own sex; and that they are more equitable with respect to the men. Sophia never talks of women, but to express the good she knows of them: of others she says nothing.

Without much knowledge of the world, she is attentive, obliging, and graceful in all she does. A good disposition does more for her, than art does for others. She possesses a degree of politeness, which void of ceremony, proceeds from a desire to please, and which consequently never fails to please.

Section V.

SENSIBILITY.

Dear sensibility ! scurce inexhausted of all that's precious in our joys, or costly in our sorrows! thou chainest thy martyrs down upon this bed of straw, and it is thou who líftest him up to heaven. Eternal Fountain of our feelings ! It is here I trace thee, and this is thy divinity which stirs within me : not, that in some sad and sickening moments, 'my soul shrinks back upon herself, and startles at destruction' _mere pomp of words !--but that I feel some generous joys and generous cares beyond myself--all comes from thee, great, great Sensorium of the world! which vibrates, if a hair of our head but falls upon the ground, in the remotest desert of thy creation.

Touched with thee, Eugenius draws my curtain when I languish ; hears my tale of symptoms, and blames the weather for the disorder of his nerves. Thou givest a portion of it sometimes to the roughest peasant, who traverses the bleakest mountain.He finds the lacerated lamb of another's flock. This moment I beheld him leaning with his head against his crook, with pitious inclination looking down upon it. -Oh! had I come one moment sooner !--it bleeds to death-his gentle heart bleeds with it.

Peace to thee, generous swain! I see thou walkest off with anguish--but thy joys shall balance it; for Happy is thy cottage, and happy is the sharer of it, and happy are the lambs that sport about you.

Section VI.

LIBERTY AND SLAVERY.

Disguise thyself as thou wilt, still slavery ! stilt thou art a bitter draught ; and though thousands in all ages have been made to drink of thee, thou art no less bitter on that account. It is thou Liberty, thrice sweet and gracious goddess, whom all in public or in private worship, whose taste is grateful, and ever will be so, till nature herself shall change-no tint of words can spot thy snowy mantle, or chymic power turn thy sceptre into iron

with thee to smile upon him who eats his crust, the swain is happier than his monarch, from whose court thou art exiled. Gracious Heaven! grant me but health, thou great be

wer of it, and give me but this fair goddess as my companion ; and shower down thy mitres, if it seem good unto thy divine providence, upon those heads which are aching for them.

Pursuing these ideas, I sat down close by my table, and leaning my head upon my hand, I began to figure to myself the miseries of confinement. I was in a right frame for it, and so I gave full scope to my imagination.

I was going to begin with the millions of my fellow-creatures born to no inheritance but slavery ; but finding, however affecting the picture was, that I could not bring it nearer me, and that the multitude of sad groups in it did but distract me

- I took a single captive, and having first shut him up in a dungeon, I then looked through the twilight of his grated door to take his picture.

I beheld his body half wasted away with long expectation and confinement, and felt what kind of sickness of the heart it was which arises from hope deferred. Upon looking nearer, I saw him pale and feverish : in thirty years the western breeze had not once fanned his blood he had seen no sun, no moon

in all that time--nor had the voice of friends or kinsman breathed through his lattice. His children

-But here my heart began to bleed—and I was forced to go on with another part of the portrait.

He was sitting upon the ground upon a little straw, in the further corner of his dungeon, which was alternately his chair and bed ; a little calender of small sticks were laid at the head, notched all over with the dismal days and nights he had passed there-he had one of these little sticks in his hand, and with a rasty nail he was etching another day of misery to add to the heap. As I darkened the little light he had, he lifted up a hopeless eye towards the door, then cast it down-shook his head, and went on with his work of affliction. I heard his chains upon his legs, as he turned his body to lay his little sticks upon

the bundle.--He gave a deep sigh--I saw the iron enter into his soul-I burst into tears- I could not sustain the picture of confinement which my fancy had drawn.

Section VII.

THE PALACE OF PLEASURE.

Methought I was suddenly transported into the Palace of Pleasure, which I had seen described the evening before ; where, in spite of all the showy magnificence of the mansion, and all the specious charms of the goddess that struck at first sight, I discovered on a close attention, such a look of real distress in many of her votaries, ill concealed under artificial smiles, as, joined to the impressions remaining on me from my waking thoughts, soon convinced me that the whole was a cruel trick, to deceive and ruin unhappy men. Whereupon I broke away with a mixture of disdain and horror, and made what haste I could from the enchanterl valley in which the

« PreviousContinue »