Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

lightning should not possess the steady Juftre of the sun; or yet, that the sun, when obscured by clouds, should not gild and gladden the creation, as when he breaks forth in all his brightness?

But let us now for a moment recollect the benign effulgence with which we have sometimes beheld that higher luminary, True Friendship, irradiating and cheering such hearts as were framed.co receive and, reflect its rays; and, when full of this image, let us contrast it with the illusive and transitory glare of that which apes it in the mutual professions of men without principle or sensibility. However specious those professions may seem, they cannot, I think, give much delight to any but the conceited or the credulous : for, in the first place, what security can persons destitute of worth, or of feeling, ever have against perpetual deception from one another? how be ascertained of their regard who want integrity ? or wbat room is left for

unsuspecting reliance, where the selfish passions predominate on both sides? And in the second place, what satisfaction can be derived to the soul from the highest compliments, or the loudest acclamations, when they are not seconded by her voice ? Wherever she refuses to join her sweet symphony of inward approbation, there the most laboured strains of praise from without are but " as sounding brass, or a 66 tinkling cymbal.”

You have not forgotten the little circle. of virtuous and intelligent Young Men, whom we represented as enjoying together the concert of minds. Think of them again, and then figure to yourselves a knot of foolish and dissolute youths, assembled under the notion of Friendship, for their reciprocal gratification. Let us see what mighty contributions they can bring to the common stock of pleasure. Far be it from me to conceal their talents, or suppress those atchievements by which

they are ambitious of displaying their zeal for their associates. I readily acknowledge they can feed conceit, foment inclination, remove the embarrassment of blushing, and harangue in honour of debauchery: they can laugh at order, authority, virtue, religion, and their advocates; depreciate the female sex, maintain with the Poet, that “ every woman is at heart a rake,” and give much information concerning those of the worst fame : they can fill up with ribaldry the vacuities of wit, “ make " a mock of fin,” and call hell a bugbear. The language of obscenity, the cup of intemperance, the sneer of scepticism, and the bluster of oaths, they can circulate with a freedom which they conceive to be prodigiously brave. By these means they allift one another very notably in the ways of vice, encourage the forward, embolden the fearful, dispel some troublesome seruples, and for a while at least lull others asleep- Ah, ye infatuated boys! could

you lull them asleep for ever; could you prevent them from waking in darkness, in distress, or in death; could you secure your companions from the future vengeance of a guilty mind, you would therr indeed do something; and though even then we might not allow you to merit very eminently the title of Friends, we Thould yet own, that you surpaffed many who assume it. But you of this audience, whom we wish to preserve from such dreadful Friendship, tell us, what is there in all the impertinence, revelry, and profaneness, to which we reser, that can challenge the character of real joy, or compensate the loss of rational, manly, and refined communication, where chearfulness and amusement are not precluded, but, on the contrary, heightened by a. judicious mixture of seriousness and re-flection; where all the harınless unbendings of merriment are found consistent with the strictest rules of a liberal piety;

where the streams of good-humour are fed by the fountain of a good conscience; what shall I say more !-- where sense, and decency, and truth, and knowledge affection engendered by esteem, and con fidence inspired by both, concur to sweeten and dignify the whole ?

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »