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Roman emperors, who pretended to divinity, were generally taught by a poignard that they were mortal; and Alexander, though he passed among barbarous countries for a real god, could never persuade his polite countrymen into a similitude of thinking. The Lacedemonians shrewdly complied with his commands by the following sarcastic edict : Ει Αλεξανδρο, Βεληταν ειναι Θεώ», Θεος εσω.
TO THE SAME.
| HERE is something irresistibly pleasing in the con. versation of a fine woman; even though her tongue be filent, the eloquence of her eyes teaches wisdom. The mind sympathizes with the regularity of the object in view, and struck with external grace vibrates into respondent harmony. In this agreeable disposition, I lately found myself in company, with my friend and his niece. Our conversation turned upon love, which she seemed equally capable of defending and inspiring. We were each of different opinions upon this subject; the lady in. sisted that it was a natural and universal passion, and produced the happiness of those who cultivated it with proper precaution. My friend denied it to be the work of nature, but allowed it to have a real existence, and affirmed that it was of infinite service in refining society; while I, to keep up the dispute, affirmed it to be merely a name, first used by the cunning part of the fair sex, and
admitted by the silly part of ours, therefore no way more natural than taking snuff or chewing opium.
“ How is it possible, cried I, that such a passion can be natural, when our opinions even of beauty, which inspires it, are entirely the result of passion and caprice ? The ancients, who pretended to be connoisseurs in the art, have praised narrow foreheads, red hair, and eye. brows that joined each other over the nose. Such were the charms that once captivated Catullus, Ovid, and Anacreon. Ladies would, at present, be out of humour, if their lovers praised them for such graces; and should an antique beauty now revive, her face would certainly be put under the discipline of the tweezer, foreheadcloth, and lead comb, before it could be seen in public company. .
“ But the difference between the ancients and moderns is not so great as between the different countries of the present world. A lover of Gongora, for instance, sighs for thick lips; a Chinese lover is poetical in praise of thin. In Circassia, a straight nose is thought most consistent with beauty ; cross but a mountain which separates it from the Tartars, and there flat noses, tawny skins, and eyes three inches asunder, are all the fashion, In Persia and some other countries, a man when he marries, chuses to have his bride a maid; in the Philippine Islands, if a bridegroom happens to perceive on the first night that he is put off with a virgin, the marriage is declared void to all intents and purposes, and the bride sent back with disgrace. In some parts of the East, a woman of beauty, properly fed up for sale, often amounts to one hundred crowns; in the kingdom of Loango, ladies of the very best fashion are sold for a pig; queens however' • Vol. II.
sell better, and sometimes amount to a cow. In short, turn even to England, do not I there see the beautiful part of the sex neglected; and none now marrying or making love, but old men and old women that have saved money? Do not I fee beauty from fifteen to twen. ty-one rendered null and void to all intents and purposes, and those fix precious years of womanhood put under a statute of virginity ? What! shall I call that rancid pasfion love, which passes between an old bachelor of fiftyfix, and a widow-lady of forty-nine? Never! never ! What advantage is society to reap from an intercourse, where the big belly is oftenest on the man's side ? Would any persuade me that such a passion was natural, unless the human race were more fit for love as they approached the decline, and, like silk-worms, become breeders just before they expired ?”
Whether love be natural or no, replied my friend, gravely, it contributes to the happiness of every society into which it is introduced. All our pleasures are short, and can only charm at intervals : love is a method of protracting our greatest pleasure; and surely that gamester who plays the greatest stake to the best advantage, will, at the end of life, rise victorious. This was the opinion of Vanini, who affirmed that every hour was loft which was not spent in love. His accusers were unable to comprehend his meaning, and the poor advocate for love was burned in flames, alas ! no way metaphorical! But whatever advantages the individual may reap from this passion, society will certainly be refined and improved by its introduction: all laws, calculated to discourage it, tend to imbrute the species, and weaken the state. Though it cannot plant morals in the human breaft, it
cultivates them when there : pity, generosity, and ho. nour, receive a brighter polish from its assistance; and a single armour is sufficient entirely to brush off the clown.
But it is an exotic of the most delicate constitution; it requires the greatest art to introduce it into a state, and the smallest discouragement is sufficient to repress it again. Let us only consider with what ease it was formerly extinguished in Rome, and with what difficulty it was lately revived in Europe : it seemed to sleep for ages, and at last fought its way among us through tilts, tournaments, dragons, and all the dreams of chivalry. The rest of the world, China only excepted, are, and have ever been, utter strangers to its delights and advantages. In other countries, as men find themselves stronger than women, they lay a claim to a rigorous superiority; this is natural, and love, which gives up this natural advantage, must certainly be the effect of art. An art cal. culated to lengthen out our happier moments, and add new graces to society.
I entirely acquiesce in your sentiments, says the lady, with regard to the advantages of this passion, but cannot avoid giving it a nobler origin than you have been pleased to assign. I must think, that those countries where it is rejected, are obliged to have recourse to art to stifle so natural a production, and those nations where it is cultivated, only make nearer advances to nature, The same efforts that are used in some places to suppress pity and other natural passions, may have been employed to extinguish love. No nation, however unpolished, is remarkable for innocence, that is not famous for pas. fion; it has flourished in the coldest as well as in the warmest regions. Even in the sultry wilds of Southern America the lover is not satisfied with possessing his mistress's person without having her mind.
In all my Enna's beauties blest,
Amidst profusion still I pine ;
It's panting tenant is not mine.*
But the effe&ts of love are too violent to be the result of an artificial passion. Nor is it in the power of fashion to force the constitution into those changes which we every day observe. Several have died of it. Few lovers are acquainted with the fate of the two Italian lovers, Da Corsin and Julia Bellamano, who, after a long separation, expired with pleasure in each others arms. Such instances are too strong confirmations of the reality of the passion, and serve to shew that supposing it is but opposing the natural dictates of the heart. Adieu.
TO THE SAME.
I HE clock just struck two, the expiring taper rises and sinks in the socket, the watchman forgets the hour in slumber, the laborious and the happy are at rest, and nothing walks but meditation, guilt, revelry, and despair. The drunkard once more fills the destroying bowl, the
* Tranflation of a South American Ode.