Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

they take and how many arts they use, to dazzle the eyes of the beholder with the mockery of wealth. But on due reflection, one finds more reason to be sad than merry.-When we consider that these deluded people are following a phantom that is leading them to ruin, that they are incurring expenses which they are utterly unable to support, that they are bartering away solid comforts for an empty show, that by striving to live splendidly they are losing the means of living decently and comfortably; when we consider that they are bringing wretchedness upon their children, by leaving them to the buffetings of poverty, ag. gravated highly by their early'acquaintance with fashionable life; when we consider, finally, that some of them are defrauding their creditors by sacrificing upon the altar of fashion what is needed for the payment of their just debts ;-when we put these considerations together, we find them enough so excite deep regret and sorrow.

It is questionable whether great wealth conduces, on the whole, even to wordly happiness. It cannot cure an aching head, nor sooth an aching heart; it is no shield from the shafts of misfortune, nor from the arrows of death ; it brings to the possessor an addition of cares as well as of comforts, and is often the means of bringing moral ruin upon his children; and while it increases his power and influence, it increases also his responsibility. The rich have, however, one exclusive privilege: they have a right to make a splendid appearance in the world, because their circumstances can

well afford it. Fine houses, expensive furniture, stately equipage, and sumptuous fare, are within the bounds of their real means, and therefore not censurable in them. In one point of view the profusion of their expenses is beneficial to community, as it gives employment and affords sustenance to industry. Yet there can be shown a more excellent way.--Frugality is comely even in the rich. Not that frugality which degenerates to parsimony, and causes the rich to wear the garb of poverty, from a sordid spirit of penuriousness; nor yet that frugality which saves merely to increase a hoard of wealth already too large ; but it is a prudent saving from the grasp of profusion for the purpose of charity and beneficence. Take the following example.

Benevolus has both largeness of wealth and largeness of heart. Content with his present wordly store, he is now resolved that his expenses shall about equal his income. He lives daily in the style of affluence, but never in the style of extravagance: and what he saves by frugality, he bestows in charity. To the children of misfortune and want, he is a friend and a father; of every useful and laudable undertaking he is a bountiful encourager.-Does Benevolus aspire to be a leader of fashion? Yes: with all the weight of his influence he tries to make industry, prudent economy, and frugality, fashionable; to make the moral and christian virtues fashionable; to make it fashionable to behave well, and to do good.-Happy man! happy the children of such a father, and the community that has such a pattern!

As the richest families may be beggared by extravagance, much sooner will it consume one's all, when that all is but little :- and what avails the ruffle without the shirt ?-Persons who are but in small circumstances, must prudently husband what they have, or it will quickly slip out of their hands. How unwise is it for them to make an ostentation of wealth which they do not possess, or to pursue fashion " when she runs faster than they can follow po_Many have smarted for this species of folly already. Many thousands, by standing on tiptoe and reaching after things too high

[ocr errors]

for them, have fallen flat to the ground. Many thousands are now suffering the pangs of want, who might have lived comfortably all their days, had they never attempted to live in fashionable splendor. Let their misfortune warn others against their imprudence. If you follow fashion beyond your real means, depend upon it the skittish jade will throw you into the mire at last.

NUMBER VIII.

Of the papal rescript from the Court of Fashion, in

directly forbidding to marry.

The injunction of celibacy, or of the monastic life, by the Romish Church, being directly in opposition to the order and ordination of nature, has, more than any other single cause whatever, produced a huge mass of evils, both moral and physical, in those countries that have been under the papal dominion ; evils too obvious to need pointing out, and too flagitious, some of them, to name. With prophetic reference, as we protestants fully believe, to the doings of that corrupted church, St. Paul, in his second epistle to Timothy, expresses himself as follows : “ Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons."-And immediately after he particularizes the unnatural and monstrous rescript, Forbidding to marry, as of the same infernal family, or nearly allied with, the doctrines of demons, aforementioned.

If, however, there were no forbidding to marry, ex"A tande'de

Aalb chay un make change it fub Anh

[ocr errors]

cept in the Romish Church, we might hope that a full cure of the deadly evil is at hand : since Old Grey Beard, as a French satirist used to call the Pope, is become too impotent, much longer to impose a law, at which all the genuine feelings of nature revolt.f But this diabolical prohibition, to wit, forbidding to marry, has been enjoined and enforced even more extensively in one other

way, than it ever was by the canons of the Vatican.—I will explain iny meaning by sketching a fragment of ancient history.

The ancient Romans were Republicans after their kind, and continued such for a considerable number of centuries. Though they were pagan idolaters, and their worship was deplorably corrupt, yet, previous to their imbibing the atheism of Epicurus, they generally believed in a future retribution of rewards and punishments; which belief operated so powerfully upon them, that they were truly exemplary in some few of the social virtues. In particular, perjury was scarcely known among them, and infidelity in the connubial state was no less uncommon, The Roman republicans

were plain men and women, accustomed to daily labor, and quite unaccustomed to finery of apparel or luxury of living. A Roman of even noble blood tilled his little field with his own hands, and was proud of tilling it with superior industry and skill ; whilst his lady, if lady she might be called, made it her chief ambition to be an excellent house-wife. While this state of things lasted, and a very long while it did last, the Romans were eager enough to get themselves wives. They married generally, and they married young : for they thought, and well they might, that whoso found a wife, found a good

* At the time when this paper was written there could have been po expectation of the restoration of the Pope.

4

that is fulfian to convence "thon inte

tot

[ocr errors]

thing—a real helpmeet, as well as a dear and faithful companion. And what is singularly remarkable if true, it is recorded by a Roman historian, that there had not been known, in the city of Rome, a single instance of divorcement during the whole space of five hundred years ; though the law had put it in the power of the husband to repudiate his wife almost at pleasure.

Unfortunately for the Roman republic, and more especially for the female part of it, a great and splendid event quite changed the morals, the taste, the habits, and the whole face of the country. One hundred and ninety years before the christian era, the Romans, for the first time, entered into Asia with an army, which under Scipio defeated and conquered Antiochus the Great of Syria : and from thence they brought home such a taste for the luxuries of the East, as promoted and hastened the ruin of their commonwealth ; and in no way more directly, than by a practical forbiddance of marriage.

The Roman women, once so plain, frugal and industrious, became enamoured of the costly finery that was brought from the East. One of them, named Lullia Paulina, when dressed in all her jewels, is said to have worn to the value of three hundred and thirty two thousand pound sterling. And though this was the most extraordinary instance of the time, yet it is reasonable to suppose that, of the rest of the ladies, every one strove to get as near the top of the fashion as she could : and that, with all the females who thought any thing of themselves, the rage was to be fine and fashionable.

This new order of things, while it precipitated the republic down the abyss of ruin, brought marriage almost into disuse : insomuch that Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, finding among the men a general disinclination to marry, was fain to pass severe penal laws, to force them as it were into the marriage bonds. But

« ПредишнаНапред »