Графични страници
PDF файл

mily to be long accustomed, with the same regularity with which many dedicate a portion of the day to cards, to amuse themselves during some hours of every evening in picking and meafuring straws from wheatsheaves, placed before each individual for that purpose ; an interruption of the custom would be felt at first as a loss of one of the essential enjoyments of life, and would leave, for a time, a vacancy scarcely to be fupplied. Hence


the importance of guarding in the outset against contracting a habit so encroaching. The first links are imperceptible; but the chain, once formed, is scarcely to be broken.

Though some few individuals of the female sex may be observed to take their places among sportsmen in the field; the fashion, happily, is not so prevalent as to entitle fox-hunting, and similar occupations, to rank among feminine amusements. It is not, perhaps, in common cases self-evident, that diversions which consist in inflict

ing torture, and shedding blood, are altogether adapted even to persons of the other sex who lay claim to cultivated understandings. But, however that may be, the rude clamour, the boifterous exertions, and the cruel spectacles of field-sports, are wholly discordant, when contrasted with the delicacy, the refinement, and the sensibility of à woman.

The reflections, which have hitherto been offered on the subject of amusements, have left unnoticed a material circumstance operating more powerfully in the case of some amusements, than in that of others; yet, in a certain measure, common to all. The inquiry has, in each instance, been almost exclusively directed to ascertain, whether the amusement specified was, in its nature and circumstances, innocent. But there is a danger which is attached even to innocent amusements; the danger of pursuing them to excess. A poffeffion which we have always in our hands, which every person around us appears to have equally with ourselves, is a possession of the valué of which we are most likely to be ignorant or regardless. Such a possession is time. Men, who are stimulated to intellectual exertions by the concurrence of various motives, either unknown to the female sex, or known only in an inferior degree; men, to whom business is in one shape or in another continually presenting itself; whom the capacity of attaining to professional honour and emolument, and the attractions of the field of literature, of which, until of late


years, they have almost enjoyed a monopoly, might tempt to cultivate their understandings, and to apply their talents to purposes of utility; frequently consign themselves to a laborious life of amusement; a life which, even if all their modes of amusement had been in themfelves irreproachable, would not have been more useful and respectable than an equal period of obstinate inactivity. Devoting their mornings to the billiard-room, and their evenings to the gaming-table ; occupied in superintending the training of race-horses, and in witnessing, with unfeeling delight, their exertions on the course; or employed in the unremitting pursuit and destruction of various parts of the animal world; they live without reflection on the great objects of human existence, neither benefited by its progress, nor preparing for its termination. A picture similar to this in its outline and compofition, though differing in the particular objects presented to the eye of the spectator, might be drawn from female life. Gay, elegant, and accomplished, but thoughtless, immersed in trifles, and hurrying with impatience, never satisfied, from one scene of diversion to another; how many women are seen floating down the stream of life, like bubbles on which the fun paints a thousand gaudy colours ; and like bubbles vanishing, sooner or later, one after another, and leaving no trace of usefulness behind! The fcriptural censure of those who are “ lovers of pleasure more “ than lovers of God (6)," a censure, the

(0) 2 Tim. iii. 16.-See also some of the preceding and of the fubsequent verses.


proper force of which may be estimated by attending to the other characters included in the fame catalogue by the Apostle, pertains not to those persons only who indulge themselves in gratifications in their own nature criminal. It belongs in due proportion to all who facrifice duty to pleasure ; to all who elevate amusements above the rank which they ought to hold in the mind of a Christian; to all who addict themselves to the pursuit of entertainment with an ardour, or to an extent, which so intrudes on their attention and their time, as to prevent them from improving their understandings, cultivating holiness and benevolence of heart, and discharging the relative duties of life, with diligence and fidelity; to all, in short, who, whatever may be the nature of their amusements, follow them, or any one of them, to excess. So disposed is the human mind to open itself to pleafurable impressions, that at all times until age or sorrow has dried up the sources of enjoyment, and above all other times, du

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »