« ПредишнаНапред »
befallen him. He should think and say of his writings, as well as of all his other goods and chattels :
:-These things I have collected for myself, for my neighbours, for friends, and for thieves, fince thieves will come in for a share.
POPE LEO THE TENTH
Died of poison, as it was commonly supposed. As he had remarkably favoured literature, and thewed some kindness to Erasmus, this learned man, hath spoken favourably of him in some of his writings, and was wil. ling to spare his character as much as he could. His encouraging arts and sciences, his boundless liberality to the poor, to wits, and poets, and artists, and pen of letters, is what his apologists have to oppose to abundance of scandalous defects and grievous faults in his character.
On a time the Cardinal had drawn a draught of certain conditions of peace between England and France, and he asked Sir T. More's counsel therein, beseeching him earnestly that he would tell him if there were any thing therein to be misliked, and he spake this so heartily (saith Sir Thomas) that he believed verily that he was willing to hear his advice indeed. But when Sir Thomas had dealt really therein, and shewed wherein that draught might have been amended, he suddenly rose in a rage, and said :-"By the mass, thou art the veriest fool of all the council.” “At which Sir Thomas fmilingly faid:-“ God be thanked, that the king, our master, hath but one fool in all his council.
TILLOTSON ADDRESSING religious bigots, has this pointed turn : « Deluded people ! that do not consider that the greatest herefy in the world is a wicked life, and that God will Vol. IV,
sooner forgive a man an hundred defects of his understanding, than one fault of his will."
“In my various journies (says the benevolent Howard) in England and Wales, I have seen many houses defaced on account of the odious tax on windows; and I cannot help repeating niy concern for its pernicious effects. I am persuaded it has a very bad influence on the health of the lower classes of people, and this may be one reason of their not having now such healthy ruddy complexions as they had formerly. The farmer's servants having been crowded into unventilated rooms, or halls, and our labouring poor having been habituated to close habitations, they dislike, when they come into work houses or hospitals, the admission of fresh air,”
ON THE READING OF NOVELS.
excites in the minds of the serious, and of the reflecting, the most lively concern. It is not against every novel, it must be allowed, that any great objections are to be found. But the number of the unexceptionable are few. Those alone are the proper objects of disapprobation that have a tendency to mislead the mind, to enfeeble the heart, to represent nature in improper colours, to excite, rather than to suppress, in the young and ardent, romantic notions of love, and to lead the unwary amidst the winding mazes of intrigue, and the flowery fields of dissipation. Females, in general, are the most inclined to peruse them, and from a fatal inattention to their edu. cation, they are the most likely to fall victims to their baneful insinuations. It is matter of great furprise that they should be read with so much avidity, when every person of the smallest discernment must know, that in
general their plots are not much varied, for a sameness runs throughout the whole of them.
An ardent, spirited, volatile young man, of loose principles, blended with what is called a generous and liberal heart, though in reality only proper to be named profuseness of disposition, is one of the chief characters; his person is represented as interesting, and handsome, the favourite of the fair, and though the seducer of, perhaps, the only daughter of an honest and amiable pair, whose peace he has murdered for ever, yet ho:v often do we find his vices softened, nay even by sophis. tical reasoning attempted to be justified. Another hero is possessed of every virtue, mild, disinterested, benea volent, chaste, and forgiving ; this character, to those who love the portraiture of man to be shaded with some imperfection, gives disgust. The heroine also is often a sentimental girl, romantic in her notions of love, fraught with sensibility, grave as a matron, the darling of the poor, and the pattern for all the females of her acquaintance. Another female, just the contrait of the other, is introduced, a pert, lively, thoughtless girl, free to romp and prattle with any fop whom chance may throw in her way. With these i wo is joined an artful, chatty Abigail, calculated to manage an intrigue, and to train Miss in the art of love ; the whole generally concluding with the reformation of the rake by the sentimental lady, who gives him her fair hand in marriage ; whilst the gay girl, by her credulity, falls a victim to the malignant machinations of an unprincipled villain. So much for the morality of a novel.
It appears from a close inspection, that one incident defeats the intention of the other ; for the rake should be held in detestation by the virtuous; wherever he entered disapprobation thould meet him, and nothing should free him from this justly merired odium, but an atonement for the injuries he has committed by a marriage with the unfortunate fair one. Those women who marry what is called a reformed rake, unite them
selves to the worst of assassins, the murderers of innocence, and the defiroyers of domestic peace! It is not necessary to mention all the usual characters in a modern novel; it is sufficient to remark, that those which I have here exhibited are fome of the most prominent.
If, as it is avowedly confessed, the end of all reading be to gain knowledge, to improve the manners, and to establish habits of virtue in the heart, how can any perfon imagine that false representations of human nature can promote so salutary a purpose? What parent, who looks with solicitude on the conduct of his child, who vigilantly snatches from her sight every object that might excite improper emotions, or guilty curiosity; who checks by his example, levity of behaviour, or immoral conversation, would permit books of this kind to enter the library of his daughter ? And are not the pages of some novels disfigured by gross immoralities, impious discourses, and obscene incidents ? Can the eye of delicacy peruse them? What would be more absurd for a parent, or a guardian of youth, than to lead them into improper company? Should not the prophane swearer, the beastly drunkard, and the unfeeling debauchee, be carefully avoided ? Those persons would be ill calculated to promote the happiness of the rising generation who would adopt such a conduct, and yet equally pernicious and detestable are, too frequently, the conversations and the incidents of many novels.
It has been speciously remarked by some persons, that to secure the virtue of youth, you should familiarize their minds to scenes of every description : to guard young women, for inftance, from the miseries of feduction, it is thought necessary to Thew them its miserable victim's. But we do not find bad men restrained from their iniquitous pursuits, by the fight of a criminal executed for similar offences. General information of the follies and vices of mankind, with proper injunctions not to practise a conduct so repugnant to virtue, joined with an assurance of severe censure, if your advice is
neglected, is the duty of every parent. Can it be necessary, however, nay, is it not idiotism, to suppose the morals can be improved by what are often erroneously called representations of human nature ? youth from being degraded by vice, will not general precepts of morality, the promises which religion makes in her votaries of inward peace here, and permanent felicity hereafter, and the threats, if we tranfgress, of severe pain, as cogently restrain, as a minute exhibi. tion of every incident that accompanies vice in her mad career?
There are many scenes in novels delineated with such glowing colours, that irresistibly in flame the imagination of youth. A fallacious high sense of honour is fometimes inculcated, that were it to be praétised, would embitter the whole of life with painful reflections, or with abject penury. Causes of real distress too frequently occur in life; therefore it is injudicious to encourage that species of writing that enfeebles the health, by exciting a sensibility for fictitious misery. In the families of tradesmen, where every one ought to be at their alsigned task, it is particularly injurious. The girls being so addicted to reading, the mothers cannot without great difficulty and vexation get any work performed. Possessed of a charming novel, they love to fit whole days, laughing or weeping, as the various incidents excite ; nursing by turns every passion that is prejudicial, and every sensation which is most probably their duty to suppress. The infatuation has even spread to the lower circle of fociety, and it is now no unfrequent sight, on entering a poor man's house, to see a novel lying on the table, which at every interval that can be snatched from observation, is read with foolish extacy, while the necessary duties of the family are neglected. The expence likewise, must be more to borrow such books than the produce of the husband's labour can afford.
Amongst either of these classes of society, the rich, the middling, or the poor, it has another mischievous