« ПредишнаНапред »
gree, that he continued upon the fret to the end of our journey. A second fell off from his good humour the next morning, for no other reason, that I could imagine, but because I chanced to step into the coach before him, and place myself on the shady side. This, however, was but my own private guess; for he did not mention a word of it, nor indeed of any thing else, for three days following. The rest of our company held out very near half the way, when on a sudden Mr. Sprightly fell asleep; and, instead of endeavouring to divert and oblige us as he had hitherto done, carried himself with an unconcerned, careless, drowsy behaviour, until he came to our last stage. There were three of us who still held up our heads, and did all we could to make our journey agreeable ; but, to my shame be it spoken, about three miles on this side Exeter, I was taken with an unaccountable fit of sullenness that hung upon me for above threescore miles; whether it were for want of respect, or from an accidental tread upon my foot, or from a foolish maid's calling me “The old gentleman,' I cannot tell. In short, there was but one who kept his good-humour to the Land's End.
There was another coach that went along with us, in which I likewise observed that there were many secret jealousies, heart-burnings, and animosities; for, when we joined companies at night, I could not but take notice that the passengers neglected their own company, and studied how to make themselves esteemed by us, who were altogether strangers to them; until at length they grew so well acquainted with us, that they liked us as little as they did one another. When I reflect upon this journey, I often fancy it to be a picture of human life, in respect to the several friendships, con
tracts, and alliances, that are made and dissolved in the several periods of it. The most delightful and most lasting engagements are generally those which pass between man and woman ; and yet, upon what trifles are they weakened or entirely broken! Sometimes the parties fly asunder, even in the midst of courtship, and sometimes grow cool even in the very honey-inonth. Some separate before the first child, and some after the fifth ; others continue good until thirty, others until forty; while some few, whose souls are of a happier make, and better, fitted to one another, travel on together to the end of their journey, in a continual intercourse of kind offices, and mutual endearments.
When we therefore choose our companions for life, if we hope to keep both them and ourselves in good humour to the last stage of it, we must be extremely careful in the choice we make, as well as in the conduct on our part. When the persons to whom we join ourselves can stand an examination, and bear the scrutiny; when they mend upon our acquaintance with them, and discover new beauties the more we search into their characters; our love will naturally rise in proportion to their perfections.
But because there are very few possessed of such accomplishments of body and mind, we ought to look after those qualifications, both in ourselves and others, which are indispensably necessary towards this bappy union, and which are in the power of every one to acquire, or at least to cultivate and improve. These, in my opinion, are cheerfulness and constancy. A cheerful temper, joined with innocence, will make beauty attractive, knowledge delightful, and wit good-natured. It will lighten sickness, poverty, and affliction; convert ignorance into an amiable simplicity; and render deformity itself agreeable.
Constancy is natural to persons of even tempers and uniform dispositions; and may be acquired by those of the greatest fickleness, violence, and passion, who consider seriously the terms of union on which they comé together, the mutual interest in which they are engaged, with all the motives that ought to incite their tenderness and compassion towards those who have their dependence upon them, and are embarked with them for life in the same state of happiness or misery. Constancy, when it grows in the mind upon considerations of this nature, becomes a moral virtue, and a kind of goud-nature, that is not subject to any change of health, age, fortune, or any of those accidents which are apt to unsettle the best dispositions that are founded rather in constitution than in reason.
Where such a constancy as this is wanting, the most inflamed passion may fall away into coldness and indifference, and the most melting tenderness degenerate into hatred and aversion. I shall conclude this paper with a story that is very well known in the north of England.
About thirty years ago, a packet-boat that had several passengers on board was cast away upon a rock, and in so great danger of sinking, that all who were in it endeavoured to save themselves as well as they could: though only those who could swim well had a bare possibility of doing it. Among the passengers there were two women of fashion, who seeing themselves in such a disconsolate condition, begged for their husbands not to leave them. One of them chose rather to die with his wife than to forsake her; the other, though he was moved with the utmost conipassion for his wife, told her that, for the good of their children, it was better one
of them should live, than both perish. By a great piece of good luck, next to a miracle, when one of our good men had taken the last and long farewell in order to save himself, and the other held in his arms the person that was dearer to him than life, the ship was pregerved. It is with a secret sorrow and vexation of mind that I must tell the sequel of the story, and let my Feader know, that this faithful pair, who were ready to have died in each other's arms, about three years after their escape, upon some trifling disgust grew to a coldness at first, and at length fell out to such a degree that they left one another and parted for ever. The other couple lived together in an uninterrupted friendship and felicity; and what was remarkable, the husband, whom the shipwreck had like to have separated from his wife, died a few months after her, not being able to survive the loss of her.
I must confess there is something in the changeableness and inconstancy of human nature, that very often both dejects and terrifies me. Whatever I am at present, I tremble to think what I may be. While I find this principle in me, how can I assure myself that I shall be always true to my God, my friend, or myself? In short, without constancy there is neither love, friendship, nor virtue, in the world.
WILL OF A VIRTUOSO. No. 216.
NATURE is full of wonders ; every atom is a standing miracle, and endowed with such qualities as could not be impressed on it by a power and wisdom less than infinite. For this reason I would not discourage
any searches that are made into the most minute and trivial parts of the creation. However, since the world abounds in the noblest fields of speculation, it is, methinks, the mark of a little genius to be wholly conversant among insects, reptiles, animalcules, and those trifling rarities that furnish out the apartment of a virtuoso.
There are some men whose heads are so oddly turned this way, that though they are utter strangers to the common occurrences of life, they are able to discover the sex of a cockle, or describe the generation of a mite, in all its circumstances. They are so little versed in the world, that they scarce know a horse from an
but at the same time will tell you with a great deal of gravity, that a flea is a rhinoceros, and a snail a hermaphrodite. I have known one of these whimsical philosophers, who has set a greater value upon a collection of spiders than he would upon a flock of sheep, and has sold his coat off his back to purchase a tarantula.
I would not have a scholar wholly unacquainted with these secrets and curiosities of nature'; but certainly the mind of man, that is capable of so much higher contemplations, should not he altogether fixed upon such mean and disproportioned objects. Observations of this kind are apt to alienate us too much from the knowledge of the world, and to make us serious upon trifles; by which means they expose philosophy to the ridicule of the witty, and contempt of the ignorant. In short, studies of this nature should be the diversions, relaxations and amusements, not the care, business and concern of life.
It is indeed wonderful to consider, that there should be a sort of learned men who are wholly employed in