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THE incidents attending domestic and private situations are of all others the most apt to effect the heart. Descriptions of national events are too general to be very interesting, and the calamities befalling kings and princes too far removed from common life to make a deep impression. With the virtues of such personages, it is nearly the same as with their sufferings; the heroic qualities which history, ascribes to great and illustrious names, play around the imagination, but rarely touch the feelings, or direct the conduct; the humble merits of ordinary life are those to which we feel a nearer relation; from which, therefore, precept is more powerfully enforced, and example more readily drawn.
Mr. Hargrave is one of my earliest friends. Being many years younger than he, I have ever been accustomed to regard him both as my guardian and my friend; and the reverence with which I looked on him in the one character, never took from the tender and affectionate warmth I felt for him in the other. After having been, for some time, a good deal in the world, he retired to the country, where he lived with elegance and ease. His wife, a very amiable woman, died soon after her marriage, leaving one only child, a girl, to the care of whose education Mr. Hargrave, after her mother's death, devoted his whole attention. Nature had done much for her; and the instruction she received from an accomplished father, gave her every grace which' can adorn the female character.
Emily Hargrave was now in her twentieth year. Her father was advanced in life, and he began to
feel the weaknesses of age coming fast upon him. Independent of the gratification which he used to receive from the observation of his daughter's virtues and accomplishments, he had come to feel a pleasure somewhat more selfish from the advantage which those virtues were of to himself. Her care and dutiful attention were almost become necessary to him; and the principal pleasure he received was from her company and conversation. Emily was sensible of this; and, though she was at pains to conceal her solicitude, it was plain that her whole care centered in him.
It was impossible that a girl so amiable as Emily Hargrave could fail to attract attention. Several young men of character and fortune became her professed admirers. But though she had a sweetness which gave her a benevolent affability to all, she was of a mind too delicate to be easily satisfied in the choice of a husband. In her present circumstances, she had another objection to every change of situation. She felt too much anxiety about her father, to think of any thing which could call off her attention from him, and make it proper to place any of it elsewhere.....With the greatest delicacy, therefore, and with that propriety with which her conduct was always attended, she checked every advance that was made her; while, at the same time, she was at the utmost pains to conceal from her father the voluntary sacrifice she was resolved to make on his account.
About a month ago, I paid a visit to Mr. Hargrave's family. I found him more changed than I had expected; the imbecilities of age which were beginning to approach last time I had seen him, had now made great advances. Formerly Mr. Hargrave used to be the delight of every company, and he never spoke without instructing or entertaining. Now he spoke little; when he did, it was with feebleness both of
voice and manner. Feeling his memory declining, sensible that he was not so acute as he once was, and unable to keep up his attention to a continued discourse, though his understanding was still perfectly good, he was afraid to venture his opinion, or to take any decided measure. He was too conscious of his own infirmities; and that consciousness led him to think, that his failure was greater than it really was. In this situation, his whole dependence was upon Emily, and she was his only support. Never, indeed, did I see any thing more lovely, more engaging. To all her other charms, the anxious solicitude she felt for her father had stamped upon her countenance,
"That expression sweet of melancholy "Which captivates the soul."
There is something in the female character which. requires support. That gentleness, that delicate softness approaching to timidity, which forms its most amiable feature, makes it stand in need of assistance. That support and assistance Emily had received in the completest manner from her father. What an alteration now! Instead of receiving support herself, she was obliged to give it; she was under the necessity of assisting, or counselling, and of strengthening the timid resolutions of him who had been, in her earlier years, her instructor and her guide, and to whom, next to Heaven, she had ever looked up. Emily felt all this;.... but feeling took not from her the power of acting.
Hargrave is abundantly sensible of his daughter's goodness. Her consciousness of this, and of how much importance her attentions are to her father, gives her the best consolation.
While I was at his house, he hardly ever spoke of himself. Once indeed, I remember he said to
me, "I am become a strange being;....even the goodness of that girl distresses me;....it is too "much for me to bear;....it is," added he, in a "very faint and broken voice, "like to overwhelm "me."
I have often remarked, that there is a perseverance in virtue, and a real magnanimity in the other sex, which is scarcely to be equalled in ours. In the virtue of men, there are generally some considerations not altogether pure, attending it, which, though they may not detract from, must certainly diminish our wonder at their conduct. The heroic actions of men are commonly performed upon the great theatre, and the performers have the applauses of an attending and admiring world to animate and support them. ....When Regulus suffered all the tortures which cruelty could invent, rather than give up his honour or his country, he was supported by the conscious admiration of those countrymen whom he had left, and of those enemies in whose hands he was ;.... when Cato stabbed himself, rather than give up the cause of liberty, he felt a pride which told him, that "Cato's would be no less honoured than Cæsar's “sword ;........and when the “self-devoted Decii died,” independent of their love for Rome, they had every motive of applause to animate their conduct :....but when Emily Hargrave sacrifices every thing to filial goodness and filial affection, she can have no concomitant motive, she can have no external circumstance to animate her. Her silent and secret virtue is the pure and unmingled effect of tenderness, of affection, and of duty.
No. LXIV. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 18.
THE science of manners, for manners are a science, cannot easily be reduced to that simplicity in its elements of which others admit. Among other particulars, the terms employed in it are not, like those of arithmetic, mathematics, algebra, or astronomy, perfectly and accurately defined. Its subjects are so fleeting, and marked with shades so delicate, that, wherever a general denomination is ventured, there is the greatest hazard of its being misapplied or misunderstood.
In a former paper I endeavoured to analyse the term "a man of fashion;" in this I am enabled by an ingenious correspondent to trace the meaning of another phrase, to wit, "good company," which, as it is nearly connected with the former, is, I believe, as doubtful in its signification. The following letter is a practical treatise on the subject; which I shall lay before my readers in the precise terms in which I received it.
TO THE AUTHOR OF THe mirror.
I AM at that time of life when education, formerly confined to the study of books, begins to extend itself to the study of men. Having lately arrived in town, I was anxious to be introduced into good company of every rank and denomination; and, in virtue of some family-connexions, assisted by the kindness of some college-friends and acquaintance, I flattered myself I should succeed in my pur