Imagens das páginas

marry, none of these chimerical notions will give you a: y pain ; nay, They will very quickly appear as ridiculous in your own eyes, as they probably always do in the eyes of your hand. They have been seniiinents which floated in your imaginations, but have neper reached your hearts. But if these sentiments have been truly gent ne, and if you have had the singularly happy fate to attach those who understand them, you hare no reason to be afraid.

I have thus given you my opinion on some of the most important are ticles of your future life, chiefly calculated for that period when you are

just entering the world. But in writing to you I am asaid my heart has been too full and too warmly interested to allow me to keep this resolution. This may have produced some embarrassment, and some Beeming contradictions. What I have written has been the amusement of some solitary hours, and has served to divert some melancholly re. flections. I am conscious I undertook a task to which I was very unequal; but I have discharged a part of my duty. You will at least be pleased with it, as the last mark of your father's love and attenti«

I am your affectionate faths

[blocks in formation]

LETTER 148. The following Letter on Friendship was written by a Gentleman

lately deceased, and found amongst his papers. MY DEAR FRIEND,

It was a strange notion of Paschal, that he would never admit any rrah to a share of his friendship. Had that great man been a misanthrope, or an enemy to his fellow creatures, I should not have been much surprised; but as his love to mankind extended as far as either his knowl edge or influence, it is necessary to consider his reasons for a conduct apparently so strange. Paschal had such elevated notions of the Deity on the one hand, and so low an opinion of human nature on the other. what he thought if he placed his affections on any created being it would be a sort of insult to the Creator, and a robbing him of that worship which was due to him alone. But whatever were the notions of that great man, yet there is such a thing as real friendship, and there is also i necessity for it. It is true, indeed, that God is our only friend, and bat un Jim our affections ought principally to be fixed. But those who ure acquainted with numan nature well know that we are such a composition of flesh and spirit, that however we may wish to keep up an intercourse with the Deity, yet our inclinations are such chat we are more desirous of being conversant with those of our own species, to whom, at all times, we can be able to unbosom ourselves.

Friendship is as old as the first formation of society, and there is not one ancient writer now extant who has not said something in praise of it. Of this we have a fine example in the story of David and Jonathan, as recorded in the second book of Samuel. In the same sacred cracles we are told that love is stronger than death ; and even the great Redeemer of the world had a beloved disciple.

But whatever the wise or learned may say, yet, we know that man is a social being, and consequently has a capacity, and even a desire for friendship, which is in its own nature so necessary, that I know not how a social being can exist without it.

Are we by any providential occurrence raised from poverty to aftlaence, to whom can we communicate the delightful news but our friend ? On the other hand, are we roduced from the highest pinnacle of gran. deur to the most abject state of poverty, to whom can we look for con. solation but Go and ou. friena? Jnueeu there is not one state or condition in life where friendship is not necessary. What wretched mortals would men be were they not empowered with so noble a principle !

Friendship is of a very delicate nature, and either the happiness or misery of both parties may, in some sense, be said to depend on it. Friendship is somewhat like marriage; it is made for life; or, as Ce sar said, “ The die is cast.” Mrs. Rowe, in one of her letters to the Countess of Hertford, says,

" Wher

contract a friendship it is for eternity. Her notions were always elevated, and the chief business of her life seems to have been promoting the interest of her fellow creatures. Friendship obliges the parties engaged to open their minds to each other ; there must not be any concealment. There is not an enJearing attribute of the Deity, not an amiable quality in man, but what is included in the word Friendship. Benevolence, mercy, pity, compassion, &c. are only parts of it.

From all this we may learn, that great care ought to be had in tire choice of friends ; and should they unhappily betray the sacred trust re. posed in them, yet we ought not to pursue them with unrelenting sury:

In the course of my experience I remember two instances of the breach of friendship, which were attended with very different effects.Two gentlemen contracted a friendship for each other, which lasted some years. At last one of them unhappily revealed a secret to his wife, who cold it to the wife of the other, in consequence of which an unhappy division took place in the family of the latter. The injured person up, braided his friend with infidelity, told him of the fatal effects occasioned by this imprudence; but, says he, although I cannot be your longer, yet I will never be your enemy. My heart will pity you, whilst my hand shall be open to relieve your necessities. Such a declaration was consistent with the prudence of a man, and the piety of a Christian; but that of the other was of a nature totally opposite, and in my opinion truly diabolical. A difference of a similar nature happened, attended with the like circumstances; but the injured person, instead nempathizing with the weakness of his friend, pursued bim with un. relenting crrelty, nor ever ceased until he had accomplished his ruin

friend any

and even triumphed over it. You may make what comments you please ; I can only assure you that both are facts. How different, my friend. has our conduct to each other been ? During these thirty years no breach has ever happened ; and it seems as new this day as at the beginning. As this is probably the last letter you will ever see in my hand writing, accept of my sincere thanks for the many benefits I have received from your faithful admonitions, and your benevolent consolauions; and when we meet in the regions of bliss, our happiness will theo remaiu uninterrupted.

I am yours sincerely,

LETTER 149. From a young Woman to a Lady, with whom she had former'.y

lived us a Companion. MADAM,

The precipitate manner in which I left your family may seem incon. sistent with the great tenderness you always treated me with. To remove, therefore, every imputation of ingratitude, I embrace this first opportunity of appearing in my own vindication, although for your

sake I am sorry to descend to particulars, especially to mention names. But my reputation, which is dearer to me than life itself, is at stake, and as a woman, I doubt not but you will bear with me.

When I first came into your service, I was determined to act in such a manner as not to give offence to the meanest of


well kilowing that good nature and affability always procure respect; and I appeal to every person in your family, whether my conduct was not con sistent with my plan. In this manner I remained enjoying an uninterrupted state of felicity for some time. I obeyed your commands with alacrity, and even servitude became a pleasure. But this was too hapo py a state to last long without interruption. But I scarce know how to proceed. Whilst I am vindicating my own conduct to my most generous benefactress, I am obliged to impeach that of her dearest and most beloved relation.

When your son George returned from the university, where he had been finishing his studies, I had no thoughts that he would ever have made an attempt on my virtue. But alas ! I was wretchedly deceived He had only been a few days at home when he'd hold of every pu portunity of being in my company

At first I did not take any notice, as I had not the least suspicion of his intentions. But I was soon convinced of my error, when he told me, that in consequence of my prostituting myself to his unlawful pleasure, he would make me a handsome settlement. This, madam, was a strong temptation, but blessed be God who preserved me innocent. You have often told me that young women oughi to fly from every appearance of sin ; and if so, how

great was my necessity of avoiding the evil? Had I laid snares to entrap your soni for a husband, it might have destroyed your peace of mind, and been considered as a dishonor to your family. Had I submitted to his unlawful desires, I should have forfeited every title to respect in this world, and highly offended that God who has graciously preserved ma hitnerto. He became more and more assiduous, till for his, for yours, and för may or n sake, I was obliged to retire in as silent a manner as possible. I am now at the house of a distant relation in Mulbanh, who takes in plain work, where I hope your ladyship will be pleased to send my clothes. With respect to wages, you know I always left that te your own discretion, and your humanity exceeded my utmost expectetions. Therefore, I again leave that matter to yourself. Let me beg, that if you mention this unhappy affair to the young gentleman, it may be with your usual tenderness. I would willingly impute his folly to the irregularities of youthful passion, rather than to any premeditated scheme ; and I doubt not when reason resumes lier throne in his heart, he will be sorry that ever he attempted to ruin one who was scarce worthy of his notice. I am, madamn, with gratitude and respect,

Your affectionate well wisher.


The Lady's Answer. DEAR LAURA,

Whilst I lament the conduct of my unhappy child, I lift my eyes with thankfulness to that gracious Being who has preserved you from ruin. You was left an orphan under my care; and when I first took you into my family it was with a design to promote your interest. Blessed be God that the precepts which I endeavored to instil into your mind bave so operated on your conduct. Your behavior in that unhappy affair ought to be laid down as a pattern for all young women to copy af ler, if they would be respected in this world, or enjoy happiness in the next. I have just been reading your letter to my son, and he was filled with the utmost shame and confusion. The truth of your narrative forced his conscience to make a genuine confession of his guilt ; and unless I judge with the partiality of a mother he is really a sincere penitent. I laid open to him the nature of his crime, and its aggravating circumstances, arising from the obligations which his elevated rank subo jected bim to, to be an example of virtue to those in a lower sphere of life. I told him, that however trifling such actions might appear in the eyes of his graceless companions, yet there was a God who beheld his inmost thoughts, and would reward him according to his merits. He declares himself fully se ssible of his fully, and says he is determined never to attempt a 'ch a thing for the future. The bearer will deliver your clothes, together with a bank note of an hundred dollars. Be as. sured of my constant assistance; and may that God who has preserved you in such imminent danger be your continual comfort in time and in eternity.

I am your sincere well wisher.

LETTER 151. From a Gentleman on his Travels abroad, to his Friend in Lon.

don, on Arbitrary Power and Popish Superstition. DEAR SIR,

It is now above two years since I left England; and if I have not been pleased, I have bad at least many opportunities of acquiring knowl. edge. You know when we parted I told you my principal design was to inquire whether the suk jects of those countries through which I

way. to pass were more hap sya respect_to their lives, ari enjoyment of their property, than those of Great Britain ? Or, second, whether vir.tue was more conspicuous in the conduct of those people than in our own at home? With respect to the first, I need not hesitate one mon ment in declaring, that the meanest subject in England, or any part of the British dominions, enjoys more real libe: ty than a Spanish grandee, or a peer of France. But what I have chiefly in view is the case of the middling and lower ranks of people.

You are well acquainted with the forms of process in the English courts, both in criminal and civil causes. All matters of law are de termined in open court by the judges, who are responsible for their con duct to the people ; and all facts are determined by the verdict of twelve men, strangers to both parties, and hindered from speaking with any person during the trial. How different is the case here and in the other countries through which I have travelled! When a person is injured in his property, he commences a suit at great expense, and after a long train of pleadings on both sides the determination both of law and fact is left to the judge, who may possibly be biassed in favor of one party, or, which is still worse, may be corrupted. But in criminal prosecutions the unhappy defendant labors under still more deplorable circum stances. When a man is apprehended on suspicion of murder, or any other capital offence, he is immediately shut up a close prisoner, and the witnesses against him are examined, not viva voce, but perhaps a mile distant, and their evidence written at large in a journal kept for the purpose. All this is done, and even the judgment agreed on by the court, whilst the prisoner is confined in a dungeon. The witnesses are ordered to attend on another day, when the prisoner is brought into court; the evidence is then read to him, and thus, for the first time, he knows who are his accusers. He is then asked if he is guilty of the facts sworn against him; if he confesses he receives judgment of death, but if he denies the whole, or any part, he is immediately put to the torture, where, perhaps, by the extremity of pain, he may be forced to confess crimes he never committed, and afterwards suffer death. Again; the property of individuals may be seized by an arbitrary tyrant, to reward the iniquity of a favor te, or gratify the ambition of a mistress. Happy England, where the attager is as secure in the enjoyment of the fruits of his honest industry, as the prince in the possession of his reven nues on the throne !

I come now to speak of their religion, which triumphs with as much rigor over the mind and conscience as the civil power over the body. Religion has been justly defined, “A dedication of the whole man to the will of God.” But popery, so far from answering the above description, seems to be a slavish submission to the dictates of idle, useless priests, who rule the consciences of the vulgar, and bend them to whatever purpose they please. And indeed there is no great wonder, when we consider that auricular confession puts them in possession of every family secret in their parishes. I am already sufficiently tired with the sight of their follies. The accounts which you have read of the inquisition are far from being exaggerated. I intend to return ir an English vessel bound for Marseiles, and from thence hasten to England

« AnteriorContinuar »