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habituated to a certain set of objects, insensibly be. comes fond of seeing them; visits them from babit, and parts from them with reluctance: from hence proceeds the avarice of the old in every kind of possession; they love the world and all that it pro duces; they love life and all its advantages not because it gives them pleasure, but because they have known it long.
Chinvang the Chaste, ascending the throne of China, commanded that all who were unjustly detained in prison, during the preceding reigns, should be set free. Among the number who came to thank their deliverer on this occasion, there appeared a majestic old man, who, falling at the em peror's feet, addressed him as follows: "Great father of China, behold a wretch, now eighty-five years old, who was shut up in a dungeon at the age of twenty-two. I was imprisoned, though a stranger to crime, or without being even confronted by my accusers. I have now lived in solitude and darkness for more than sixty years, and am grown familiar with distress. As yet dazzled with the splendor of that sun to which you have restored me, I have been wandering the streets to find out some friend that would assist, or relieve, or remem. ber me; but my friends, my family, and relations, are all dead, and I am forgotten. Permit me then, O Chinvang, to wear out the wretched remains of life in my former prison; the walls of my dungeon are to me more pleasing than the most splendid palace: I have not long to live, and shall be unhappy except I spend the rest of my days where my youth was passed, in that prison from whence you were pleased to release me.'
The old man's passion for confinement is similar to that we all have for life. We are habituated to the prison; we look round with discontent, are displeased with the abode, and yet the length of our captivity only increases our fondness for the cell. The trees we have planted, the houses we have
built, or the posterity we have begotten, all serve to bind us closer to earth, and imbitter our parting. Life sues the young like a new acquaintance; the companion, as yet unexhausted, is at once instruc tive and amusing; its company pleases; yet, for all this, it is but little regarded. To us, who are de elined in years, life appears like an old friend; its jests have been anticipated in former conversation; It has no new story to make us smile, no new improvement with which to surprise; yet still we love it; destitute of every enjoyment, still we love it; husband the wasting treasure with increasing frugality, and feel all the poignancy of anguish in the fatal separation.
Sir Philip Mordaunt was young, beautiful, sincere, brave-an Englishman. He had a complete fortune of his own, and the love of the king his master, which was equivalent to riches. Life opened all her treasures before him, and promised a long succession of future happiness. He came, tasted of the entertainment, but was disgusted even at the beginning. He professed an aversion to living; was tired of walking round the same circle; had tried every enjoyment, and found them all grow weaker at every repetition. If life be, in youth, so displeasing,' cried he to himself, what will it appear when age comes on? If it be at present indifferent, sure it will then be execrable.' This thought imbittered every reflection; till, at last, with all the serenity of perverted reason, he ended the debate with a pistol! Had this self-deluded man been apprised, that existence grows more desirable to us the longer we exist, he would then have faced old age without shrinking; he would have boldly dared to live; and served that society, by his future assiduity, which he basely injured by his desertion.
ON THE LADIES' PASSION FOR LEVELLING ALL DISTINCTION OF DRESS.
FOREIGNERS observe that there are no ladies
in the world more beautiful, or more ill-dressed, than those of England. Our country-women have been compared to those pictures, where the face is the work of a Raphael, but the draperies thrown out by some empty pretender, destitute of taste, and entirely unacquainted with design.
If I were a poet, I might observe, on this occasion, that so much beauty, set off with all the advantages of dress, would be too powerful an antagouist for the opposite sex; and therefore it was wisely ordered, that our ladies should want taste, lest their admirers should entirely want reason.
But to confess a truth, I do not find they have a greater aversion to fine clothes than the women of any other country whatsoever. I cannot fancy that a shopkeeper's wife in Cheapside has a greater ten. derness for the fortune of her husband, than a citizen's wife in Paris; or that miss in a boarding. school is more an œconomist in dress than mademoiselle in a nunnery.
Although Paris may be accounted the soil in which almost every fashion takes its rise, its influence is never so general there as with us. They study there the happy method of uniting grace and fashion, and never excuse a woman for being awk. wardly dressed, by saying her clothes are in the mode. A French woman is a perfect architect in dress; she never, with Gothic ignorance, mixes the orders; she never tricks out a squabby Doric shape with Corinthian finery; or, to speak without metaphor, she conforms to general fashion only
when it happens not to be repugnant to private beauty.
The English ladies, on the contrary, seem to have no other standard of grace but the run of the town. If fashion gives the word, every distinction of beauty, complexion, or stature, ceases. Sweeping trains, Prussian bonnets, and trollopees, as like each other as if cut from the same piece, level all to one standard. The Mall, the gardens, and playhouses, are filled with ladies in uniform; and their whole appearance shows as little variety of taste as if their clothes were bespoke by the colonel of a marching regiment, or fancied by the artist who dresses the three battalions of guards.
But not only the ladies of every shape and complexion, but of every age too, are possessed of this unaccountable passion for levelling all distinction in dress. The lady of no quality travels first behind the lady of some quality; and a woman of sixty is as gaudy as her grand-daughter. A friend of mine, a good-natured old man, amused me the other day with an account of his journey to the Mall. It seems, in his walk thither, he, for some time, followed a lady who, as he thought by her dress, was a girl of fifteen. It was airy, elegant, and youthful. My old friend had called up all his poetry on this occasion, and fancied twenty Cupids, prepared for execution in every folding of her white negligee. He had prepared his imagination for an angel's face; but what was his mortification to find that the .imaginary goddess was no other than his cousin Han nah, some years older than himself!
But to give it in his own words: After the transports of our first salute,' said he,' were over, I could not avoid running my eye over her whole ap. pearance. Her gown was of cambric, cut short before, in order to discover a high-heeled shoe, which was buckled almost at the toe. Her cap consisted of a few bits of cambric, and flowers of
painted paper stuck on one side of her head. Her bosom, that had felt no hand but the hand of time these twenty years, rose, suing to be pressed. I could, indeed, have wished her more than a hand. kerchief of Paris net to shade her beauties; for, as Tasso says of the rose bud, Quanto si nostra men, tanto epiu bella. A female breast is generally thought most beautiful as it is more sparingly discovered.
'As my cousin had not put on all this finery for nothing, she was at that time sallying out to the Park, when I had overtaken her. Perceiving, however, that I had on my best wig, she offered, if I would squire her there, to send home the footman. Though I trembled for our reception in public, yet I could not, with any civilty, refuse; so, to be as gallant as possible, I took her hand in my arm, and thus we marched on together.
'When we made our entry at the Park, two antiquated figures, so polite and so tender, soon attracted the eyes of the company. As we made our way among crowds who were out to show their finery as well as we, wherever we came, I perceived we brought good-humour with us. The polite could not forbear smiling, and the vulgar burst out into a horse-laugh, at our grotesque figures. Cousin Hannah, who was perfectly conscious of the rectitude of her own appearance, attributed all this mirth to the oddity of mine; while I as cordially placed the whole to her account. Thus, from being two of the best-natured creatures alive, before we got half way up the Mall, we both began to grow peevish, and, like two mice on a string, endeavoured to revenge the impertinence of others upon ourselves. 'I am amazed, cousin Jeffery,' says Miss,' that I can never get you to dress like a Christian. I knew we should have the eyes of the Park upon us, with your great wig, so frizzled, and yet so beggarly, and your monstrous muff, I hate those odious muffs.'
I could have patiently borne a criticism on all the