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The unfortunate Player.
his present want, I proposed, after we had reached Chapelizod, that we should repair to a small inn, for the purpose of procuring some refreshment. The young man accepted my invitation, and we found ourselves seated shortly after in a small parlour, with cold beef, bread, and ale on a table before us. I do not know when I experienced a more lively pleasure than I did in seeing the poor fellow partake of this fare, with an eagerness which shewed that his late assertion was no vain boast, and that the cameleon's dish had indeed been his only food for some time past. By degrees his conversation became more coherent, and I found him to be a young man of a highly educated mind, and gifted with great natural genius; and, except when his thoughts reverted to the stage, his conversation was polished and entertaining ; but on this theme he betrayed such a flightiness of thought, and poured forth such a rhapsody of words, that it was easy to perceive the cause of his sorrows. In fine, I gained upon his confidence, and in the end obtained the story of his life, or rather the sketch of his adventures, which, as they are of an amusing cast, and may not be altogether useless in a moral point of view, are at the service of your miscellany. I noted each occurrence in my memory as the young man detailed his story; and following, as closely as I could, his words and manner, I afterwards wrote it down in a regular form, and the adventures of an unfortunate player are accordingly for, warded with this introductory letter, to be inserted when you please.
There was one circumstance, connected with himself, which the young man concealed; this was his present mode of subsistence. Nor could I learn his abode. But I imagine his secrecy on these points arose more from pride than from any unworthy cause. I offered him my services; when, on our return towards the city, he stopped at the little glen where I had met him in the morning, and pressing my hand, he said in a suppressed voice, “ We must part here.” I hesitated a little ;-this lonely spot was perhaps his concealment. “ We must part here,” he again repeated; “ farewell, my dear sir.” “ Inform me," said I, “ if there is any mode in which I may assist you.” He paused—and looking wildly, he exclaimed
I greet thy love-not with vain thanks, but with
Will I put thee to it “ Lend me a crown”-he added in a stage whisper. I drew
out my purse, and in silence placed its contents in his hand; he looked at the money in some surprise, not expecting, I suppose, that his request would have been so readily complied with; and turning to me with a look, the expression of which I shall not easily forget, he wrung my hand, and darting down the glen, was out of sight in an instant.
X. Y. Z.
Vitanda est improba Siren
It is a complaint of long standing against the female portion of the community, that they neglect the more solid and useful part of education, and give a marked preference to accomplishments which are merely superficial, and altogether unworthy of such a competition.
Every person must acknowledge the fascination which ac. companies the actions of a fashionable woman ; but how often are our expectations disappointed, when we examine the sources of our admiration-how often do we find the most complete ignorance of every thing useful concealed beneath the garb of politeness and affability. This, however, only shews the utility, in a worldly sense, of these popular and engaging qualities, which conceal our defects, add so much to the worth of the real virtues, and attract the attention of even the most sensible men; but the regret we feel at the unintentional deception evinces the superior value we would place on more solid acquirements.
The most attractive accomplishments are dancing, drawing and music; and that they are estimable appendages of female education I would be sorry to deny. For my part, though an old fellow who am from temperament and constitation averse to the present mode of dancing as a personal exertion, I am seldom happier than when I see my young
friends about me enjoying that exhilarating amusement. Their mirth inspires me with some portion of my youthful vigor; and but for the consequent forfeiture of my established character, as a man of steady and grave deportment, I would often be tempted to indulge in a minuet. (By-the-bye I am glad to see the good old fashions in some measure revived by the introduction of fancy, instead of country dances.) Dancing is a very proper and social amusement; but as a resource against ennui, that dreadful enemy of the unemployed and affluent, it must yield the palm to drawing. The first can be enjoyed only in society, where its assistance in this capacity is least required—the other is our companion in solitude; the one wearies the body, and gives no play to the imagination-the other is a quiet enjoyment, and affords the finest open for the display of genius and the exercise of talent. Both, however, must retire before the fascinating spells of music.
O music! thou art pleasing to the old man's soul ; thy varying notes, arranged in delightful harmony, pour a sweet complacency over every thought, and, enraptured, I imagine myself exalted above mortality. I feel myself young, vi. gorous, impassioned--or rather I do not feel myself at allfor all selfishness is absorbed in the sublimity of my conceptions. I forget my age—my sorrows-my disappointments. They are surely right who say, that the bliss of Paradise consists in heavenly music. The soft tones of the organ, swelling through the distant aisle, and the voices of the sing. ers, mingling in sweet concord, are not upfit adoration for a Deity, whose every action is love. Since my first assumption of my present character, I have never regretted my choice, or been tempted to break through my determination, except when it prevented me from openly testifying my pleasure in musical society. I have seen in our cathedrals a young man whose very soul seemed enwrapt in the celestial strains which issued from the organ-loft-I have seen him laughed at or pitied; but though I could not avoid smiling at bis enthusiasm, I could almost envy the happiness, the intensity of which rendered him so insensible to the derision of all around him.
I acknowledge the fascinating influence of these accomplishments, and think that every parent, whose finances will admit him, should give his children the opportunity of acquiring them. My complaint is therefore only against their exclusive cultivation: for though relaxation is absolutely
necessary; amusements should not occupy the time of more instructive studies. The mind should be enlightened, the intellectual powers strengthened, and the taste corrected. The season of youth should not be spent in mental idleness ; for it is difficult, indeed, to restore its energy to that soul which is corrupted by a passion for frivolous employments; and Hercules, at the side of Omphale, with the distaff in his band, does not present a more incongruous idea to the observer, than a rational and perhaps highly-gifted woman, whose time is spent in the practice of the newest quadrille figures, or in the arrangement of her head-dress, to the exclusion of every thought and every study which could tend to raise her to an equality of sentiment with her husband. How can we expect a mother properly to superintend the education of her children, if her own acquirements are confined to an acquaintance with the arts of reading and writing? Or can drawing, dancing, music, or even a slight knowledge of the French and Italian languages (not author's ) compensate a husband for a want of that steadiness which can scarcely be attained without an abstraction from the little pothings of dress and fashion, and an attention to the more serious concerns of life.
Among my most intimate acquaintances is one, whose mercantile engagements oblige him to spend the greater part of each day in his counting-house. He is married to what is called a good kind of woman, who loves her daughters, as she thinks, too well to restrain them from indulging their youthful vanities and caprices. Mercator, my friend, has paid Italian, French, Music, Drawing, Writing and Dancing masters; but in consequence of his wife's folly, all his hopes have been disappointed; for the efforts of none have succeeded, except the last. The girls are perfectly ignorant of the composition of any language, and could never be caught in the performance of so unfashionable an action as thinking soberly and rationally for one minute, or reading any book except a romance or novel. The consequence of all this is, that, when by themselves, they suffer under a complete dearth of thought; or if loquacity must be indulged, you will hear little else but scandal and an ill-nature which can seldom pause to remark the good qualities of an acquaintance. I have used my privilege of deafness in listening to their morning conversation, and have heard a full description of the dresses worn by Lady A. and Miss B. at Mr. Young's benefit; or (a not less idle, and still more reprehensible employVOL. I.-NO, IV.
ment,) they have calumniated the very persons, on whom I have seen them at other times bestow all the attention and endearments of the most refined friendship. All their ideas of perfection seem centered in dress; and yet they are accounted fashionable girls by those who mistake Hippancy for wit, and regard showy accomplishments more than real merit. I was sitting in their company not long since, when a young friend came with her brother to visit them. Nature had not been more bounteous to her, but she had improved every opportunity, and great indeed was the difference between the visitor and her hostesses. The young gentleman entered into conversation with Mercator, and a question arose involving some peculiar customs of different nations. Mercator appealed to his daughters for information, thinking himself duly authorised to do so by the heavy expenses he had incurred in their education. They preserved a prodent silence. Mercator was astonished, and applied to the fair stranger, who blashed and immediately solved his doubts. In a few mintues a well drest spark entered the room and attracted the girls' attention. I watched them, and thought the young lady would not have joined in the ridiculous conversation which ensued among them; but I was mistaken ;she was equally prepared for every attack; and though she sank rather into the back ground, I found that her reading did not incapacitate her from giving a very sensible opinion as to the proper mode of flouncing a gown, or going through á Spanish dance. Though they laughed, and seemed very much amused, the highest flight of their fancy only reached to some criticisms on Mirandola, which they had studied from the Theatrical Observer; and even there, their friend regained her natural ascendancy.
It may be perceived, that to advance the female character to its perfection, I would recommend the early direction of the intellectual faculties to their proper ends;
and this is best attained by a course of instructive reading. This alone can assist our own actual observation, and guide us properly through life. On some future occasion, I may resume the subject,—and I will only at present remark, that I could not allow a single tinge of pedantry to sully my fancied picture. This would be worse than ignorance, as nothing can excuse presumption. LEARNING is useful, NOT INTRINSICALLY, BUT FROM ITS CONSEQUENCES; AND HE WHO DERIVES FRON IT ITS BEST LESSOX, WILL LEARN TO BE HUNBLE.