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Suppose her, if you will, entirely silent, from a disposition to give place to others who may seem more desirous of talking ; will not her very
silence interest ? But when, on finding room left her to share in the discourse, she delivers herself with that sweetness of voice which often accompanies mild affections, expressing in gentle unstudied accents such sentiments as are worthy of her character; I leave you to guess the effect on every susceptible by-stander. Alas! my friends, what is all the momentary lustre you are continually labouring to give those lips, compared with the permanent beauties of a lovely mind, breathing from them in agreeable conversation? Let me add, where the grace of meekness has the soul in full possession, it will be often seen beaming in the eyes with a bland sensibility, and sporting on the countenance in placid smiles, more soft than the softest glow of a summer evening; especially, when the mind is at any time exalted into livelier emotions of benignity and joy. Or once more let us suppose, that affliction has given to such a face a cast of solemnity and languor ; it will still retain a kind of sober charm that is inexpressibly affecting. In truth, beauty never touches the heart so deeply, as when with a sweet unreluctant surrender it seems ready to faint under the shock of misfortune, or the load of sorrow. But to proceed.
I would take the liberty to observe, that christian meekness will be of particular use to prevent the artful behaviour so frequently complained of in women, and in many instances so justly. plaint, I confess, comes with an ill grace from those men, whose daily study it is, in one shape or another, to impose on the sex ; nor can I doubt but many of the latter would have more sincerity, if
there are very
the others had less design. They probably think themselves justified in baffling art by art ; and from the science of defence and resistance, they are too apt to pass to that of stratagem and attack. It is marvellous indeed to what lengths many of them carry it, till they become mere compositions of hypocrisy where each ingenuous feeling is lost, and every word, look, motion, and ininute proceeding, is a lye. Whether it be that Nature has given them more subtilty, or that education has taught them more disguise, or that their condition affords them greater leisure to think of such things, or that they are willing to make up in wiles what they want in strength ; whether it be owing to one, or to all of these causes, I know not: but the fact is this, that
few men able to contend with a cunning woman in her own way.
Nevertheless, I must inform such dissemblers, that cunning is not true ability ; it is at best but lefthanded wisdom; it carries with it an obliquity, and an impotence, that a noble mind will, and that a capable one ought to despise. I need not say, that it is diametrically opposite to the simplicity of the gospel, which admits our being “ wise as serpents," only so far as is consistent with our being “harm" less as doves,” The maxim of a virtuous prudence are comprehensive ; and she who has learnt, with a humble reliance on heaven's direction, tò apply them as occasion requires, will never want. the assistance of artifice. In short, artifice is very often a feeble auxiliary, and almost constantly betraying those that trust to it. Fond prepossession, or unsuspecting candour, may no doubt be easily deceived by female disguise ; but it is difficult to act apart long. Dissimulation will sometimes let fall the mask ; and he has not the spirit of a man, who does not
abhor and scorn the detected impostor. Mean while, what a laborious task is hers! How anxious, ignoble, and wretched! From this, my fair disciples, native goodness and christian meekness will save you. By being what you ought to appear, you will be under no temptation of appearing what you are not. An obliging conversation, and soft deportment, will proceed from you freely as from a living fountain. . Having no bad passions to conceal, your thoughts and manners will be transparent. Truth will be your prompter, while discretion is your guard. In you virtue will wear her mildest aspect, without constraint and without study. The baseness and barbarity of inviting and encouraging addresses, which you mean not in the end to accept, you will avoid and detest. A proffered heart you will refuse 'with civility and gratitude, where you cannot return your own; or where you can and ought, you will accept with generosity and affection. Let me add
upon the whole, that as every mode of dissimulation is equally injudicious and unbecoming, so she will always be the most attractive, while she is the only honourable character, who cultivates genuine worth instead of artificial forms, and practises undissembled sweetness instead of fictitious courtesy
Such a one was Isabella, the darling of all who knew her. It is true, she lived where virtue is not eclipsed by fortune, and where depravity of manners did not prevent the admiration of excellence. Her mind was very early accomplished ; it was that of a woman, when she was yet but a child.
It shone in her face with a generous warmth, and at the same time a calm intelligence, seldom seen in a countenance so young; it produced in her whole Vol. II.
deportment a mixture of softness and dignity, which she alone did not perceive. In company, the merits of others, not her own, engaged all her attention. She was never pert.
Her diffidence kept her too frequently silent: when she spoke, it was with sweet simplicity and smiling respect. Her voice was melody itself, without that frivolous whine which is often occasioned by dissembling, and often by affectation. Among her intimate companions she was sprightly and playful : for them she felt the enthusiasm of friendship. Her pen flowed in a stream of sentiment alike tender and exalted; it was the interpreter of her heart. Every duty becoming her station, and consistent with her years, she fulfilled from instinct sanctified by piety ; a piety, in which meekness still presided. Heaven beheld so gentle a spirit with complacence, and took her away
from the evil to come ; took her to itself, in all the purity of untainted virtue.
She was seized on a sudden: I then saw her : she was no way alarmed. Young and beautiful, admired and happy, she surrendered her soul with a placid resignation ; she smiled in her last moments ; the smile remained on her clay-cold visage for some time after the informing mind was fled. She was lovely and pleasant in her life, and in her death an object of universal and affectionate lamentation. Her little story furnishes a proof, that sentiment and meekness conjoined, are superior to all other allurements; and that dispositions at once mild and virtuous require neither disguise nor heightening
I presume you know, that the language of inspiration represents the internal character under the notion of a person or living form, which it styles the old or the new man, according as the principles of sin or of holiness have the ascendant. By the
same figure of speech, the inward graces and decorations of a christian are here termed " the hidden
man of the heart, in that which is not corruptis ble ;" to contrast them with that corporeal beauty, , and those external embellishments which are immediately palpable to the senses, and like them subject to decay and corruption. Thus it is that St. Peter would call off your too anxious attention from inferior, outside, and short-lived attractions, whether original or assumed, to such as are of supreme value, being in their nature spiritual and immortal. Nor does he simply rest there, but farther recommends the latter as highly acceptable to your Maker, “ even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."
Such a spirit, indeed, bears a near resemblance to his own most merciful and blessed attributes, to his well beloved Son and our divinely benevolent Saviour, to those good and happy creatures that constitute the angelic world, and to all the excellent ones of human kind, both on earth and in heaven, that belong to the same great family of love. Such a spirit proceedis directly from the common parent, and cannot but be pleasing to its author. What says St. James ? “ The wisdom that is from above “is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to 6 be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits.' Such is the temper of christianity, and such are its effects.
To cherish them in yourselves let all the preceding considerations incite you ; but above them all, be engaged by the divine ambition of being approved by the sovereign judge and rewarder of excellence What can be added to such an argument ; or what can we offer upon it, that will be any way answerable to its dignity? To appear beautiful