페이지 이미지

virtue or of vice are sown in their minds. For the execution of so high and delicate a trust, we have a right to every advantage of culture and instruction in our youth, which will be necessary to correct ourjudgements, to regulate our desires, and multiply our innocent pleasures; but the duties which this paramount object of our lives imposes upon us, require also that nothing should enter into the scheme of our education that can taint our minds with a relish for those attainments and exertions, which belong to a different sphere of action, and another range of obligations.

By keeping these objects, I mean the care of infant minds, and the management of our families, constantly in our view, we shall obtain a rational rule of female education, and a proper estimate of female worth. This measure will direct us in the cast of our studies, and the choice of our amusements. It will exclude, as well all the follies of the mode, and the laborious impertinence of fashionable culture, as the dangerous and distorted lessons of ambition and enterprise; while it will let in all those sensibilities and


of the heart and understanding, which are of real weight and utility in the tender concerns of a wife or a mother, and are the ornaments of the female character in every scene and allotment of life.”

Here Miranda finished her discourse, which was very much applauded by the rest of the company, and seemed to speak the general sense. part, as my natural tenderness for the sex leads me always to mix a great deal of encomium in every question concerning them, I could not lielp thinking Miranda a little deficient on this head, and only excusable as a party concerned: I endeavoured, therefore, to fill up this deticiency, by quoting some very

For my

fine things said in their commendation by very wise ancients. I perceived that I recommended myself much to them all by this piece of gallantry; and that my quotations from Plutarch, to which I took care to give the handsomest turn I could in my translation, were particularly admired.

Miranda, who was still a little heated from the great part she had taken in the conversation, went so far as to propose that the bust of that entertaining author should be placed in a part of the room, together with my own. The old lady iny mother, who smiled more than was usual with her at this idea, putting her hand into her pocket with much significancy, drew out of it the County Chronicle, and pointing with her knitting-needle to a particular advertisement, bid me read it aloud ; declaring, that if we would consent to put the advertiser's head between those of Plutarch and Simon Olive-branch, she would agree to the proposal.

“Woman is the master-piece of the Almighty. “ Has

any of us beauty, softness, or grace, to compare with hers?

Is not her mind the arcana of “all that is desirable? Seek for elegance, you find “it in her shape; for penetration, you find it in her

eye; for beauty, you find it in every feature, “especially if she has consulted the improvement of “ her charms so far as to adorn them with Vickery's “ incomparable têtes."

[ocr errors]

I assure

my readers that the project of the busts is totally laid aside.



Θεον και προνοιαν επιςεύεν εξ ων εθαυμαζεν. .


" Their admiration of God's might, displayed in his works,

produced in them a conviction also of his providence and moral government.”

« His case,

There is an agreeable parallel drawn in Cicero's Nature of the Gods, which throws considerable ridicule on the obstinacy of an atheist : says he,“ is like that of a person, who, upon entering a large house beautifully constructed and commodiously arranged, and finding it untenanted by any animal of greater power, sagely concludes it to have been built by the rice he sees running about it.” Thus the atheist disbelieves in Providence, for no other reason than because he does not see him actually at the great work. He has, however, the choice only of two conclusions: he must either attribute the creation of the world, and its moral government, to God; or he must attribute unwearied constancy and unfailing order to chance.

When I see our reason thus raised in rebellion against our hopes, and nursing errors so frightful and monstrous, I am tempted to repine at this privilege and distinction of our nature, and can almost regret the possession of an instrument we may so easily handle to our own destruction. The sensible proofs of the existence of a God are so very manifest, and, to speak in scriptural language, are so scattered about our paths, that one can hardly think this primary article of our faith a part of our probation, or that any degree of merit is attached to it. I have seen, however, in some men, a sort of foggy understanding, which outrages every object, and melts down proportion and colour into a mass of mighty confusion, in which there is no susceptibility of beauty, and whence light and order are for ever excluded.' To one of this temper, the harmony of the system in which we move appeals in vain; the return of the seasons can make no impression upon him; and the revival of the verdure, and the regeneration of the blossom, brings him no delight or consolation.

I have ever considered it as one of the most touching instances of the benevolence of our Maker, that be has afforded us this great variety of sensible proofs of his existence and providence, in the vast scene that lies before us: and our sense of this bounty and condescension is very much raised by considering, that it not only sustains our hopes, and confirms our faith, but reaches to the mere concerns of this world, and diverts and refreshes the spirits, in the seasons of disappointment, of exertion, and of


Sir William Temple has observed, that there is a kind of sensual pleasure in a fine day; our very organs and fibres seem to feel its invigorating influence; our veins riot, and our spirits bound. If it be a sensual pleasure, it is not only the most innocent, but it is ennobled by its relation to those which are intellectual: and it is plain how much it is our interest to enlarge the sphere of these sorts of enjoyments, which we may indulge in without reproach, and persevere in without satiety. It was a favourite idea of the stoics, that to contemplate and admire the excellencies of Nature's works, forms a capital part of our duty and destination in this world. We may observe also, that, when they dwell on these testimonies of a providential government of the world, the unity of design that every where discovers itself obliges them to speak of one great Omnipotent. For the same reason does Cicero deify the world itself, rather than ascribe such integrity and perfection of plan to the counsels and agency of the gods in general.

Among all the animals which walk upon the earth, and inhale the breezes of a summer-day, man alone, erect and contemplative, is conscious of the benefaction, and capable of its delights: it should, methinks, therefore be somewhat affronting to the Deity, to pass by these tokens of his benevolence, without either tribute, or homage, or grace, or sensibility. For my part, I find no recreation so agreeable to my temper and my years, as the study of nature. I work under my mother's tuition in the school of botany; a science she has followed up, the greater part of her long life, with much perseverance and delight. She frequently bestows upon me great commendation for my specimens, but thinks I waste too much time in my comments and reasonings upon them; and the other day, on my forgetting the names of some of her favourites, she called me a giddy boy, and touching my cheek softly with her hand, observed, with a melancholy smile, that thus would the names and chronicles of the house of the Olive-branches be forgotten after our departure.

But to return to my subject: I was going to remark, that the study of nature is as much distinguished from other subjects by the variety of its topics, as by the value of its conclusions. All our different tastes and geniuses may here be severally

« 이전계속 »