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as their circumstances will allow, and, when they cannot reach the same gratifications, grow outrageous in their discontent and their crimes? Does not such general and extraordinary corruption carry a portentous aspect with regard to the religious, moral, and political interests of the community? Are not all these intimately connected in every nation? And has it not been universally found, that they advanced and prospered, or declined and perished, together?
· That the period in which we live is entitled to praise for its progress in sciences and arts, in experimental philofophy, in critical learning, in all matters of taste and elegance, in the accommodations and embellishments of society, and, what is better than all the rest, in its numerous and unparallelled foundations of the Charitable kind, it were uncandid and absurd to deny. We could: dwell with pleasure on the munificent things that are
done every day in this kingdom, and particularly in its capital, for the prevention or relief of calamity in almost every imaginable fhape. We could even with rapture point to great numbers of both sexes and different conditions, as to so many good angels habitually employed in diffusing consolation through the abodes of forrow, and sweetly solicitous to discover by what means they rnay most effectually alleviate the miseries, and lessen the vices, of mankind. We are equally delighted to know, that among individuals of all orders, much virtue and many good qualities in other ways still exist, though the effects are not immediately perceived by the public eye, being concealed or overlooked from a variety of causes.
· It cannot however be dissembled, that the strongest characteristic of the present age, considered at large, is a predominant love of show, diffipation, and revelry. When wealth employs genius, dexterity,
or diligence, to contrive and heighten innocent amusements, none but the illiberal or the gloomy can be displeased : trade and manufactures are promoted ; skill is exercised and improved ; social delight is varied and exalted; Piety is not offended or forgotten; the Virtues and the Graces go hand in hand. But when application, taste, and talents, are prostituted to such as can buy them, for the purpose of devifing, without limitation and without end, new modes of pleasure ruinous by their expence, inflammatory to the passions, productive of softness, idleness, sensuality, debauchery; tending to alienate the heart from the company of the wise and worthy, from the duties and joys of domestic life; to indispose it for the sentiments and offices of devotion ; to beget a disrelish for virtuous attachment in those that are not married, to supplant affection in those that are; and thus to undermine the very foundations of private, and consequently of public happiness ;-
when this is the case, can you easily conceive a more alarming symptom, or a more fatal perverfion?
Many of you know, that so long as Athens and Rome retained the masculine fpirit of their games and sports, the frugality and simplicity of their manners, their reverence for religion, their respect for the claims of friendship, for the sweets of home, for female decency, and conjugal fidelity, those celebrated states continued to shine with superlative glory; but that, when security, opulence, and effeminate refinements, introduced an universal relaxation in these particulars, they visibly fell from whatever was elevated and magnanimous. The Roman people in particular drooped, their very faculties decayed, their ruling ideas were debased; a paffion for riches, for magnificence, for adulation, for the most enormous intemperance and profusion, supplanted the love of their country, and all those heroic atchievements by which their ancestors had, protected and adorned it: in short, they became--what? --feeblę, timid, dependent, venal, llavish, and false; the flatterers and tools of tyrants, treacherous, ingrateful, jealous of all around them, wretched in themselves, arrogant and despairing by turns, dreaded for their mischief and scorned for their meanness'at the same time. The condition into which their defcendents are funk, the abject fervility and deep depravity of modern Italy, as well as the grossness and barbarism of
modern Greece, will for ever attest the · baneful effects of that extravagance, and
those diversions, which, under the pretence of national wealth and greatness, debauch, degrade, and debilitate mankind.
· If we consult the English History, what do we learn there? In those days, when the heroic qualities and sagacious counsels of the highly accomplished, though not very amiably feminine, Elizabeth, commanded the respect and engaged the con- . fidence of her subjects; when dignity and : ?