Графични страници
PDF файл

-In time long past, the lord of a manor in one of the neighboring states, is said to have had a way of his own to clear his house of visiters. When his tenants, to whom he was affable and courteous, seemed disposed to prolong the visits which they now and then made him, he dropped the Dutch tongue, and began speaking to them in English : whereupon the honest Dutchmen, knowing what was meant by the token, forthwith made off with themselves.

But the sage counsel, BE SHORT, applies not to visiters alone. It might be made of like precious use to authors and public speakers, who too often lack one valuable kind of knowledge, namely " that of discerning when to have done."

66 'Tediousness," as a writer of eminent abilities observes, “is the fault that most generally displeases : since it is a fault that is felt by all, and by all equally. You may offend your

reader or hearer in one respect, and please him in another ; but if you tire him out with your tediousness you give him unmingled disgust."

A book can do but little good if it be but little read: a destiny that befals almost every book that is found to be unnecessarily prolix and bulky. This was the 'error of a former age. The massy folios of the last century but one, folios written by men of great parts and astonishing learning, have lain as lumber and been confined to the shelves of the curious, for no other reason than because every thread has been spun out to the greatest possible length. Whereas had the highly respectable authors, learned to be short, or given heed to the art of compressing their thoughts, they never would have wanted for readers.

Writers, sometimes, eke out their subject far beyond what need requires, from a mistaken ambition of making a great book. But readers of the present age genterally lean to the sentiment in the old Greek proverb, “ A great book is a great evil.It frightens them : they will scarcely open it, and much less set themselves to the task of reading it throughout.

Thus, in this respect it is with books as it is with money. As small change in quick and constant circulation, does more good than ingots of gold and silver hoarded up, so a small book that has a great many readers, is, if truly a good one, of much more benefit than a volume of enormous bulk, which, for that single reason is scarcely read at all. Nay, I will even venture to affirm, that the Bible itself would be much less read, and read with much less delight, were it one and indivisible. But the Bible, though bound together in one volume, is not a single book, but a collection of sixty-eight different books, all penned with brevity as well as with inimitable simplicity ; and arresting the attention, alike by the weight of their matter and their engagingness of manner.

Speak, young man, if there be need of thee, but be short—is a monitory saying of the son of Sirach, which, together with the two following short sayings of that eminent sage-Learn before thou speak-We may speak much and yet come short-compose, all three, a pretty good recipe for young men of forward feelings, to carry about, and use on various occasions, and more especially to take along with them to Congress-Hall.

Speeches in the forum, pleas at the bar, and even sermons, when they are of immoderate length, seldom fail to be tiresome. So that public speakers consult their own credit as little as they do the feelings of their hearers, when they are more solicitous to say much, than that every thing they do say should be to the purpose.

Whether in visits, in public speaking, or in common conversation, almost all are enough apt to discern and reprobate the sin of tediousness as respects others; and yet very few are fully aware of it as respects themselves. Their own company is, forsooth, so delightful, that their visits can never tire; they themselves speak so well that nobody can wish them to have done ; they talk so charmingly that their own loquaciousness always gives entertainment rather than disgust.

Thus it is that some men, otherwise of good sense, unconsciously give pain by their prolixity, though in regard to the prolixity of any body but themselves, their taste is delicate even to squeamishness.


Of some particulars conducive to conjugal peace and


• While yet we live, scaree one short hour perhaps,
Between us two let there be peace.

[ocr errors]

THESE are the words which Milton puts into the mouth of Eve, to pacify and sooth her incensed husband, at the moment he found himself involved, along with her, in a condition of guilt and misery occasioned primarily by her fault ; nor is there perhaps any thing more exquisitely pathetic in the immortal work of that poet. Indeed, throughout the whole speech of Eve in the latter part of the tenth book of Paradise Lost, the atfectionate and pathetical tone in which she pleads, and her general manner, are such as must touch with commiseration any heart but one of stone.

In the lines selected for the present motto, there is a Moral, which comes home to the bosom of every intelligent man and woman in the married state. Next in importance to the serenity of a good conscience, is the enjoyment of domestic peace. With it, adversity is soothed, by the repose of home; without it, prosperity is but a gilded misery. Connubial harmony, sweetens as well as enhances the common blessings of life ; while its opposite embitters whatever of enjoyment the smiles of fortune can bestow : so that the “6 dinner of herbs” is far better in the one case, than the “ stalled ox" in the other.

It is not to my present purpose however, to describe at large, either the blissful fruits of connubial harmony, or the baneful consequences of domestic discord, but rather to suggest ways and means for securing the one and avoiding the other ; by which course, while shunning the beaten track of declamation, I am led into by-paths, or to observations very little connected. But if only one of these unconnected observations shall be found really useful, it is hoped that the reader will excuse all the rest for the sake of that one.

Although marriages, to be happy, must be founded in mutual affection, yet even that essentially necessary basis is not sufficient to build hopes upon without one's possessing, in addition, a reasonable prospect of competence,-the real amount of which, as respects the fashionable class, is not definable, by any fixed metes and bounds, being diverse according to the diversity of tastes and habits. It is but little that man absolutely needs : and were his desires in any measure proportionate to his real needs, a competence would, in most instances, be of very easy attainment. But, in the highly artificial state of society now existing, it unfortunately happens that the despotic court of Fashion

dooms very many to a life of celibacy, not for their want of ability to support the mere necessary expenses of a married state, but for want of ability to support its expenses in that sphere of life to which they have been accustomed, and from which it is their settled resolution never to descend ; chusing rather to forego the first and sweetest of social comforts, than to sink only a few degrees in Fashion's scale. Again, from the same cause, it happens still more unfortunately, that very many in the married state, turn their weal into wo, and sometimes their amity to discord, by beginning with and persisting in, a style of living utterly incompatable with their fortunes or their incomes. Of all the sources of domestic infelicity, this is at present one of the most prolific.

But to come more closely to the point in hand ;-in choosing a wife, examine carefully whether her domestic character be estimable. If her temper, her moral qualities, her deportment toward her parents, and the general tenor of her conduct in the domestic circle, speak highly in her favour, good earnest is then given that she will act her part well in a family of her own.

Expect not too much from Woman. It is neither an angelical, nor a paradisiacal being, that you are to enter into connubial alliance with, but a heritor of the infirmities of fallen nature,-one who, at best, has some of the ingredients of folly and perverseness in her composition. If then, you must needs have a perfect wife, the better way will be to wait till you become perfect yourself.

If your heart be infected with the scrofula of contempt for female nature, marry not at all till cured of that foul disease.

Popenjay, values himself greatly, as it would seem, upon his manly contempt of womankind, and particular

« ПредишнаНапред »