Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

I am very sorry that her majesty did not see this assembly of objects so proper to excite that charity and compassion which she bears to all who stand in need of it, though at the same time I question not but her royal bounty will extend itself to them. A chari: ty bestowed on the education of so many of her young subjects, has more merit in it than a thousand pensions to those of a higher fortune who are in greater stations in life.

I have always looked on this institution of charityschools, which, of late years, has so universally prevailed through the whole nation, as the glory of the age we live in, and the most proper means that can be made use of to recover it out of its present degeneracy and depravation of manners. It seems to promise us an honest and virtuous posterity: there will be few in the next generation who will not at least be able to write and read, and have not had an early tincture of religion. It is therefore to be hoped, that the several persons of wealth and quality, who made their procession through the members of these new-erected seminaries, will not regard them only as an empty spectacle, or the materials of a fine show, but contribute to their maintenance and increase. For my part, I can scarce forbear looking on the astonishing victories our arms have been crowned with, to be in some measure the blessings returned upon that national charity which has been so conspicuous of late, and that the great successes of the last war, for which we lately offered up our thanks, were in some measure occasioned by the several objects which then stood before us.

Since I am upon this subject, I shall mention a piece of charity which has not been yet exerted among us, and which deserves our attention the more, because it is practised by most of the nations about us. I mean a provision for foundlings, or for those children who, through want of such a provision, are exposed to the barbarity of cruel and unnatural parents. One does

not know how to speak on such a subject without horror: but what multitudes of infants have been made away by those who brought them into the world, and were afterwards either ashamed or unable to provide for them!

There is scarce an assizes where some unhappy wretch is not executed for the murder of a child. And how many more of these monsters of inhumanity may we suppose to be wholly undiscovered, or cleared for want of legal evidence? not to mention those, who, by unnatural practices, do in some measure defeat the intentions of providence, and destroy their conceptions even before they see the light. In all these the guilt is equal, though the punishment is not so.

But to pass by the greatness of the crime, (which is not to be expressed by words,) if we only consider it as it robs the common-wealth of its full number of citizens, it certainly deserves the utmost application and wisdom of a people to prevent it.

It is certain, that which generally betrays the profligate women into it, and overcomes the tenderness which is natural to them on other occasions, is the fear of shame, or their inability to support those whoin they gave life to. I shall therefore show how this evil is prevented in other countries, as I have learned from those who have been conversant in the several great cities of Europe.

There are at Paris, Madrid, Lisbon, Rome, and many other large towns, great hospitals built like our colleges. In the walls of these hospitals are placed machines, in the shape of large lanterns, with a little door in the side of them turned towards the street, and a bell hanging by them. The child is deposited in this lantern, which is immediately turned about into the inside of the hospital. The person who conveys the child rings the bell, and leaves it there, upon which the proper officer comes and receives it without making further enquiries. The parent or friend, who lays the child there, generally leaves a note with it, declaring whether it be yet christened, the name it should be called by, the particular marks upon it, and the like.

It often happens that the parent leaves a note for the majntenance and education of the child, on takes it out after it has been some years in the hospital. Nay, it has been known that the father has afterwards owned the young foundling for his son, or left his estate to him. This is certain, that many are by this means preserved, and do signal services to their country, who without such a provision might have perished as abortives, or have come to an untimely end, and perhaps have brought upon their guilty parents the like destruction.

This I think is a subject that deserves our most set rious consideration, for which reason I hope I shall not be thought impertinent in laying it before my readers.

No. 106. MONDAY, JULY 13.

Quod latet arcaná non enarrabile fibra.

PERS.

As I was making up my Monday's provision for the public, I received the following letter, which being a better entertainment than any I cap furnish out myself, I shall set it before the reader, and desire him to fall on without further ceremony.

“SIR,

“ Your two kinsmen and predecessors of immortal memory were very famous for their dreams and visions, and contrary to all other authors, never pleased their readers more than when they were nodding. Now it is observed that the second-sight generally runs in the blood; and, Sir, we are in hopes that you yourself,

like the rest of your family, may at length prove a dreamer of dreams, and a seer of visions. "In the mean while I beg leave to make you a present of a dream, which may serve to lull your readers till such time as you yourself shall think fit to gratify the public with any of your nocturnal discoveries.

“ You must understand, Sir, I had yesterday been reading and ruminating upon that passage where Momus is said to have found fault with the make of a man, because he had not a window in his breast. The moral of this story is very obvious, and means no more than that the heart of a man is so full of wiles and artifices, treachery and deceit, that there is no guessing at what he is from his speeches and outward appearances. I was immediately reflecting how happy each of the sexes would be, if there was a 'window in the breast of every one that makes or receives love. What protestations and perjuries would be saved on the one side, what hypocrisy and dissimulation on the other? I am myself very far gone in this passion for Aurelia, a woman of an unsearchable heart. I would give the world to know the secrets of it, and particularly whether I am really in her good graces, or if not, who is the happy person.

“I fell asleep in this agreeable reverie, when on a sudden methought Aurelia lay by my side. I was placed by her in the posture of Milton's Adam, and

With looks of cordial love hung over her enamour'd. As I cast my eye upon her bosom, it appeared to be all of crystal, and so wonderfully transparent, that I saw every thought in her heart. The first images I discovered in it were fans, silks, ribbons, laces, and many other gew-gaws, which lay so thick together, that the whole heart was nothing else but a toy-shop. These all faded away and vanished, when immediately I discerned a long train of coaches and six, equipages and liveries, that ran through the heart, one after another, in a very great hurry for above half an hour together. After this, looking very attentively, I observed the whole space to be filled with a hand of cards, in which I could see distinctly three mattadors. There then followed a quick succession of different scenes. A playhouse, a church, a court, a puppet-show, rose up one after another, till at last they all of them gave place to a pair of new shoes, which kept footing in the heart for a whole hour. These were driven off at last by a lap-dog, who was succeeded by a Guinea pig, a squirrel, and a monkey. I myself, to my no small joy, brought up the rear of these worthy favourites. I was ravished at being so happily posted and in full possession of the heart: but as I saw the little figure of myself simpering, and mightily pleased with its situation, on a sudden the heart methought gave a sigh, in which, as I found afterwards, my little representative vanished; for, upon applying my eye, I found my place taken up by an ill-bred, awkward puppy, with a money-bag under each arm. This gentleman, however, did not keep his station long before he yielded it up to a wight as disagreeable as himself, with a white stick in his hand. These three last figures represented to me in a lively manner the conflicts in Aurelia's heart between Love, Avarice and Ambition For we jostled one another out by turns, and disputed the post for a great while. But, at last, to my unspeakable satisfaction, I saw myself entirely settled in it. I was so transported with my success, that I could not forbear hugging my dear piece of crystal, when, to my unspeakable mortification I awaked, and found my mistress metamorphosed into a pillow.

“This is not the first time I have been thus disappointed.”

“O venerable Nestor, if you have any skill in dreams, let me know whether I have the same place in the real heart, that I had in the visionary one: to tell you truly, I am perplexed to death between hope and fear. I was very sanguine till eleven o'clock this morning, when I overheard an unlucky old woman

« ForrigeFortsæt »