« ForrigeFortsæt »
tion, in which those latent capacities shall bave full play? The yast variety and yet beautiful symmetry and proportions of the several parts and organs with which the creature is endued, and their apt cohesion with, and dependence on, the curious receptacle of their life and nourishment, would forbid his concluding the whole to be the birth of chance, or the bungling effort of an unskilful artist; at least would make him demur awhile at so harsh a sen: tence. But if, while he is in this state of uncertainty, we suppose him to see the babe, after a few successful strug. gles, throwing off his fetters, breaking loose from his little dark prison, and emerging into open day, then unfolding his recluse and dormant powers, breathing in air, gazing at light, admitting colours, sounds, and all the fair variety of na. ture; immediately his doubts clear up, the propriety and excellency of the workmanship draw upon him with full lustre, and the whole mystery of the first period is unravelled by the opening of this new scene. Though in this second period the creature lives chiefly a kind of animal life, i.e. of sense and appetite, yet, by various trials and observations, he gains experience; and, by the gradual evolution of the powers of imagination, he ripens apace for a higher life, for exercising the arts of design and imitation, and of those in which strength or dexterity is more requisite than acuteness or reach in judgment. In the succeeding rational or intellectual period, his understanding, which formerly crept in a lower, mounts into a higher sphere, canvasses the natures, judges of the relations of things, forms schemes, deduces consequences from what is past, and from present, as well as past, collects future events. By this succession of states, and of correspondent culture, he grows up at length into a moral, a social, and a political creature. This is the last period, at which we perceire him to arrive in this his mortal career. Each period is introductory to the next succeeding one;
each life is a field of exercise and improvement for the Dext higher one; the life of the fætus for that of the infant, the life of the infant for that of the child, and all the lower for the highest and best. But is this the last period of Nature's progression? Is this the utmost extent of her plot, where she winds up the drama, and dismisses the actor into eter. nal oblivion ? Or does he appear to be invested with supernumerary powers, which have not full exercise and scope, even in the last scene, and reach not that maturity or perfection, of which they are capable; and therefore point to some higher scene, where he is to sustain another and more important character than he has yet sustained ? If any such there are, may we not conclude, by analogy, or in the same way of anticipation as before, that he is destined for that after-part, and is to be produced upon a more august and solemn stage, where his sublimer powers shall have proportioned action, and his nature attain it's completion?
VIEW OF THE DIFFERENT
STAGES OF LIFE.
HE who, in his youth, improves his intellectual powers in the search of truth and useful knowledge, and refines and strengthens his moral and active powers by the lote of virtue, for the service of his friends, his country, and mankind; who is animated by true glory, exalted by sacred friendship for social, and softened by virtuous love for domestic life; who lays his heart open to every other mild and generous affection; and who to all these adds a sober, masculine piety, equally remote from superstition and enthusiasm : that man enjoys the most agreeable youth, and lays in the richest fund for the honourable action and happy enjoyment of the succeeding periods of life.
He, who, in manhood, keeps the defensive and private passions under the wisest restraint; who forms the most select and virtuous friendships; who seeeks after fame, wealth, and power, in the road of truth and virtue, and, if he cannot find them in that road, generously despises them; who, in his private character and connexions, gives fullest scope to the tender and manly passions, and in his public character and connexions serves his country and mankind in the most upright and disinterested manner; who, in fine, enjoys the goods of life with the greatest moderation, bears it's ills with the greatest fortitude, and in those various circumstances of duty and trial maintains and expresses an habitual and supreme reverence and love of God: that man is the worthiest character in this stage of life; passes through it with the highest satisfaction and dignity, aud paves the way to the most easy and honourable old age.
Finally, he who, in the decline of life, preserves himself most exempt from the chagrins incident to that period; cherishes the most equal and kind affections; uses his experience, wisdom, and authority in the most fatherly and venerable manner; acts under a sense of the inspection, and with a view to the approbation of his Maker; is daily aspiring after immortality, and ripening apace for it; and, having sustained his part with integrity and consistency to the last, quits the stage with a modest and graceful triumph: this is the best, this is the happiest old man.
Therefore that whole life of youth, manhood, and old age, which is spent after this manner, is the best and the hap
ON MARRIAGE. THE aphorism, so often repeated, that "there is no medium in marriage, but that it is a state of exquisite
happiness or exquisite misery;” is a maxim equally false and pernicious: for marriage is only one modification of human life, and human life is not commonly in itself a state of exquisite extremes; but is, for the most part, that mixed and moderate state, so naturally dreaded by those who set out with fancying this world a state of rapture, and so naturally expected by those who know it to be a state of probation and discipline. Marriage, therefore, is only one condition, and often the best condition, of that imperfect state of being, which, though seldom very exquisite, is often very tolerable; and which may yield much comfort to those, who do not look for constant transport. But, unfortunately, those who find themselves disappointed of the unceasing raptures they had anticipated in marriage, disdaining to sit down with so poor a provision as comfort, and scorning the acceptance of that moderate lot, which Providence commonly bestows with a view to check despondency and to repress presumption, give themselves up to the other alternative; and, by abandoning their hearts to discontent, make to themselves that misery, with which their fervid imaginations had filled the opposite scale.
The truth is, these young ladies are very apt to pick up their opinions, less from the divines than the poets; and the poets, though it must be confessed they are some of the best embellishers of life, are not quite the safest conductors through it. In travelling through a wilderness, though we avail ourselves of the harmony of singing birds to render the grove delightful, yet we never think of following them as guides, to conduct us through it's labyrinths.
MRS. HANNAH MORE.
FLAVIA AND MIRANDA. FLAVIA and Miranda are two maiden sisters, that have each of them two hundred pounds a year. They
buried their parents twenty years ago, and have since that time spent their estate as they pleased.
Flavia has been the wouder of all her friends, for her excellent management in making so surprising a figure on so moderate a fortune. Several ladies, that have twice ber fortune, are not able always to be so: genteel, and so constant at all places of pleasure and expense. She has every thing that is in the fashion, and is in every place where there is any diversion. Flavia is very orthodox, she talks warmly against heretics and schismatics, is generally at church, and often at the sacrament. commended a sermon, that was against the pride and vanity of dress, and thought it was very just against Lucinda, whom she takes to be a great deal finer than she need to be. If any one asks Flavia to do something in charity, if she likes the person who makes the proposal, or happens to be in a right temper, she will toss bim half-acrown or a crown, and tell him; if he knew. what a long milliner's bill she had just received, he would think it'a great deal for her to give. A quarter of a year after this, she hears a sermon upon the necessity of charity; she thinks the man preaches well, that it is a very proper subject; that people want much to be put in mind of it; 'but she applies nothing to herself, because she remembers, that she gave a crown-some time ago, when she could so ill spare it.
As for poor people then selves, she will admit of no. complaints from them ; she is very positive they are all cheats and liars, and will say any thing to get relief, and therefore it must be a sin to encourage them in their evil ways.
You would think Flavia bad the tenderest conscience in the world, if you were to see how scrupulous and apprehensive she is of the guilt and danger of giving amiss.
She buys all books of wit and humour, and has made