« ПретходнаНастави »
the trembling softness of grief for virtue in dis-, tress, or of solicitude for friendship in danger. Believe me, if the gaiety of conversation gave place somewhat oftener to the tender. tale of wo, you would not, to such at least of your male acquaintance as have hearts, appear at all the less lovely. The sigh of compassion stealing from a female breast, on the mention of calamity, would be rather more musical in their ears, than the loud bursts of unmeaning laughter, with which they are often entertained. Let me add here, that the innocence and sympathy appearing in your discourse will, to every discerning man, spread around yoų a lustre which all the jewels in the world can: not bestow.
The diamond's and the ruby's blaze
Disputes the palm with beauty's queen : Not beauty's queen commands such praise,
Devoid of virtue if she's seen. But the soft tear in Pity's eve
Outshines the dramond's brixhtest beams; But the sweet blush of Modesty
More beauteous than the ruby seems.
If we speak of improvement; merciful Redeemer, how edifying to this soul is this generous sensibility! “ It is better to go to the house of mourning * than to the house of feasting : for that is the end “ of all men, and the living will lay it to heart. Sor6 row is better than laughter: for by the sadness of er the countenance the heart is made better. The “ heart of the wise is in the house of mourning ; but “ the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. As " the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laugh65 ter of a fool. This also is vanity." You know who said so--the man who had spent many a day, and many a night, in the bower of voluptuousness, far from the cries of misery, and the moans of complaint ; who gat him“ men-singers and women“ singers, and the delights of the sons of men ;" who had, times without number said in his heart, “ Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, there“ fore enjoy pleasure ;" who sought by a prudent use of wine to exalt his own spirits, and to promote the hilarity of those about him ; in a word, who kept not from his eyes whatsoever they desired, nor withheld his heart from any joy. This, I say, was the man whom experience, as well as inspiration prompted to give the preference you have just now heard. There is yes, there is attendanton virtuous sadness a sensation which, in point of indulgence and elevation at once, is superior to all that was ever felt by a light mind, in the flush of festivity, or amidst the triumph of wit.
Having mentioned Wit, let me proceed to warn you against the affectation and the abuse of it. Here our text from the Colossians comes in with propriety, “Let your Speech be always with Grace, « seasoned with Salt.” These remarkable words were addressed to christians in general. They are considered by the best commentators, as an exhortation to that kind of converse, which, both for matter and manner, shall appear most graceful, and prove most acceptable ; being tempered by courteousness and modesty, seasoned with wisdom and discretion, that like salt will serve at the same instant, to prevent its corruption and heighten its flavour. How beautiful this precept in itself! How useful and pleasing in the practice! How peculiarly fit to be practised by you, my female friends, on the turn of whose conversation and deportment so much depends to yourselves, and all about you !
From what I have now to offer, it will be found likewise to come, with advantage, in aid of our leading doctrine ; since there are not perhaps many worse foes to that Sobriety of spirit, which we would still inculcate, than the abuse and affectation already mentioned.
It is not my design to gather up, if I could, the profusion of flowers that have been scattered by innu nerable hands on this tempting theme ; and by which those very hands have, in their own case, shown how difficult it is to resist the temptation. I would only observe, that the dangerous talent in question has been well compared to the dancing of a meteor, that blazes, allures, and misleads. Most certainly it alone can never be a steady light ; and too probably it is often a fatal one. Of those who have resigned themselves to its guidance, how few has it not betrayed into great indiscretions at least, by inflaming their thirst of applause ; by rendering them little nice in their choice of company ; by seducing them into strokes of satire, too offensive to the persons against whom they were levelled, not to be repelled upon the authors with full vengeance ; and finally, by making them, in consequence of that heat which produces, and that vanity which fosters it, forgetful of those cool and moderate rules that ought to regulate their conduct!
A very few there may have been endowed with judgment and temper sufficient to restrain them from indulging “ the rash dexterity of wit," and to direct it to purposes equally agreeable and beneficial. But one thing is certain, that witty men for the most part have had few friends, though many admirers. Their conversation has been courted, while their abilities have been 'feared, or their
characters hated, or both. In truth the last have sellom merited affection, even when the first have excited esteem. Sometiincs their hearts have been so bad, as at length to bring their heads into disgrace. At any rate, the faculty termed Wit is commonly looked upon with a suspicious eye, as a two-edged sword, from which pot even the sacredness of friendship can secure. It is especially, I think, dreaded in women.
In a Mrs. Rowe, I dare say, it was not. To great brilliancy of imagination that female angel joined yet greater good. ness of disposition; and never wrote, nor, as I have been told, was ever supposed to have said, in her whole life, an ill-natured, or even an indelicate thing. Of such a woman, with all her talents, none could be afraid. In her company, it must have been impossible not to feel respect; but then it would be like that, which the pious man entertains for a ministering spirit from heaven, a respect full of confidence and joy. If aught on earth can present the image of celestial excellence in its sofiest array, it is surely an accomplished Woman, in whom purity and meekness, intelligence and modesty, mingle their charms. But when I speak on this subject, need I tell you, that men of the best sense have been usually averse to the thought of marrying a witty female ?
You will probably tell me, they were afraid of being outshone ; and some of them perhaps might
But I am apt to believe, that many of them acted on different motives. Men who understand the science of domestic happiness, know that its very first principle is ease. Of that indeed we grow fonder, in whatever condition, as we advance in life, and as the heat of youth abates,
But we cannot be
are not safe, We are never safe in the company of a critic; and almost every wit is a critic by profession. In such company we are not at liberty to unbend ourselves. All must be the straining of study, or the anxiety of apprehension : how painful! Where the heart may not expand and open itself with freedom, farewel to real friendship, farewel to convivial delight! But to suffer this restraint at home, what misery! From the brandishings of wit in the hand of ill-nature, of imperious passion, or of unbounded vanity, who would not flee? But when that weapon is pointed at a husband, is it to be wondered if from his own house he takes shelter in the tavern ? He sought a soft friend; he expected to be happy in a reasonable companion. He has found a perpetual satirist, or a self-sufficient prattler. How have I pitied such a man, when I have seen him in continual fear on his own account, and that of his friends, and for the poor lady herself ; lest, in the run of her discourse, she should be guilty of some petulance, or some indiscretion that would expose her and hurt them all! But take the matter at the best, there is still all the difference in the world between the entertainer of an evening, and a partner for life. Of the latter a sober mind, steady attachment, and gentle manners, joined to a good understanding, will ever be the chief recommendations ; whereas the qualities that sparkle will be often sufficient for the former.
As to the affectation of wit, one can hardly say, whether it be most ridiculous or hurtful. The abuse of it, which we have been just considering, we are sometimes, perhaps too often, inclined to forgive, for the sake of that amusement which in spite of all the improprieties mentioned, it yet atores. The