Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

kind, attended with these circumstances, when a coroner's inquest; who had viewed the body, and heard the matter immediately after the fact, should pronounce it murder.' 'If, then, as the law stands (for I conclude that these verdicts, given upon oath, are according to law,) it is so difficult to convict persons of murder who kill others in duels, is there no other way of inflicting punishment upon duellists ?—Permit me to suggest the following, viz. That every person who gives a challenge to another, should be liable to a penalty of one thousand pounds ;. every person who accepts à challenge, be also liable to the same penialty ; every person who acts as second to either of the parties, be liable to a penalty of five hundred pounds; and every surgeon attending a duel, or who, having notice of it, is in readiness to attend if wanted, be liable to the like penalty. Now, as persons who fight duels have not the fear of God before their eyes, probably the fear of a heavy penalty might have some effect; and I think every means should be tried to put a stop to so infamous a practice. If challenges were only given by one miscreant to another of the same stamp, there might not be so much evil attending them; for, 'if one of them fell, it might rid the world of some pest to society : but it may happen, that, from the most infamous motives, some wretch may send a challenge to some highly respectable, useful, and virtuous character, who, being too much swayed by fashion and custom, or what is falsely called the laws of honour, may not have courage enough to refuse to comply with such an infamous practice ; and thus, the life of a most valuable member of society may be put into danger, and possibly cut off, by one of the most infa

I beg to observe further, that I would not wish any of the laws against duelling repealed : but, as there are duels fought where neither parties are wounded, or not mortally, so that they

liable to be tried for murder, I would have the above penalties inflicted in all cases where the party escapes capital punishment.

J. K.

mous.

are

ON HOPE. What is, then, this secret instinct, that makes us in love with the future, and constantly draws the mind to the time at which we have not yet arrived ? It is Hope! Hope carries it insolving rays into the recesses of a dungeon ; smiles on the pillow of the sick ; and watches night and day at the door of the indigent.

66 The Creator," says the author of the Hemiade, “ has placed us two friendly beings, constant and amiable inhabitants on the earth ;

.

nurse

our supporters in peril, our tresurers in indigence ; hope and fear, the foes care.”

Religion makes hope a virtue. Paganism has made it a divinity. The poets represent it as the sister of sleep, which suspends our sorrows, and death that ends them. Pindar calls hope the of old age.” It sustains us in every period of life; it blossoms in every season, like the myrtle that preserves its verdure through the year. It is not without reason. A certain author says, “hope makes us live." The human mind is essentially active ; when it ceases to hope, it begins to languish. It has been observed, that a sentiment is more or less permanent in proportion to its violence : nothing is more fleeting than surprize, anger, fright. Nature, desirous that hope should be extinguished only with life, has made it a milder sentiment. Most of the passions are like the burning rays of the meridian sun. The illusions of hope are the beams of the moon, shining mildly in the night. Hope makes upon the soul the same impression that green color, which is its symbol, produces on the sight. But what gives a peculiar charm to hope, is the tender melancholy that always accompanies it; the comparison between the present and the future; the privation of the good, and the perspective of its enjoyment, produces a mixture of sadness and joy that takes entire possession of the soul, and fills it with delicious sensations. How often in the times of revolution and civil discord, have victims been given up to the sword by the very persons on whom they had heaped favours ? When so many unfortunate beings have been betrayed by their friends and abandoned by their relatives, what an affecting spectacle to behold, Hope still stretching out her hand! Hope alone remained at the post of friendship ; at its voice the doors of eternal bliss few open, and the scaffold became the ladder of heaven ! But if hope has sometimes consoled the unhappy, it often becomes, by mistaking its objects, a source of care and sorrow. Nothing is so nearly connected with despair as foolish expectations. Hope does not always take reason for its guide : it follows more easily the imagination, which always flatters its portraits. Hope also often deceives itself, from want of experience, for experience is only acquired by a knowledge of the past, and hope knows only the future. Thus our hopes are often no more than the dreams of the night ; and we resemble the glass man in the story, who overset his fortune with a kick of his foot, and awoke from his reverie to disappointment.

ON FEAR. Fear, like other passions of the mind, becomes criminal only, when suffered to transgress its appointed boundary in either extreme. The total want of fear, argues a great defect in the understanding; and to be actuated by it, renders its subject, contemptible, slavish, miserable. Fear, in almost every creature, is the mainspring of self-preservation;, it is fear that teaches the bird to soar, the beast to bound, and the reptile to crawl. Were men totally without fear, what law, human or divine, could restrain the career of the licentious, or check the progress of the profligate ? Meditated villainy would burst into practice! The assassin would perpetrate his bloody plots by day! And the freebooter abandon the desert ! Hypocrisy would then display (or rather throw away) her cloven foot ! And vice and crime rear their audacious crest ! Gibbets would then be erected in vain ; the wrecks and the wheel would prove silly inventions ! In vain would agriculture reclaim the desert, and make the wilderness to blossom as the rose ! In vain would commerce unfuil her canvas, and turn her riches upon our coast, if fear to man was unknown! The unerring author of our nature, saw the necessity of this passion of the mind, not to prevent anarchy and confusion in the natural and moral world: but to guide us to a state of immortal felicity hereafter, by a glorious union to, and happy dependence upon bimself, for which purpose, it was wisely and graciously planted in the human breast !

The excess of fear, on the other hand, has a tendency to magnify calamity, by creating imaginary honours, and in this respect renders its subject wiserable ; we should never be influenced by fear in the paths of virtue and religion ; because in this sense, the fear of man causeth a snare. The noble army of Martyrs, who are ascended in the regions of bliss, have left examples of intrepidity upon record superior to its power! The love of liberty, patriotism and philanthropy, in the cause of the American revolution, as well as our late contest, have transported thousands of our countrymen beyond the reach of fear.

Let us take a retrospective view of the evils arising from the abuse of this passion ; in which, it will be proper to observe that Fear is the parent of superstition ; and that superstition has been productive of many evils, will be denied by none, who are ac quainted with the history of the dark æra, from the 10th to the. 17th century.

What was it, but superstition, that gave rise to the holy war, in which many myriads, both of Christians and Mahometans have

fallen a sacrifice to that gloomy tyrant! What is it but superstition, that sends the pilgrim to traverse Arabia's burning sands, and court the hardships of the inhospitable desert! What is it but superstition, that draws the christian to Mount Calvary, or the Mahometan to Mecca! Rivers of oil and mountains of wax, have been con, sumed in the cause of superstition, where benevolence to mankind and true piety towards God have had but little influence ! So universally prevalent is superstition, that the wise and magnanimous, as well as the silly and fearful, are more or less tainted with it. The gallant soldier, as well as the timorous old woman; and the sage philosopher, as well as the ignorant peasant, are in some measure subject to the dominions of this dreary despot!

VIRTUE. The fire must be of an unusual composition, that is made to burn in water, and so must his temper be that can remain unsullied, and retain its brightness, though encompassed with corruption's waves. When the handsome courtesan, Theodata, vaunted to Socrates how much she was to be esteemed before him, because she could gain many proselytes from him, but he none from her, he replied, that it was no wonder, for she led them down the easy and descending road of vice, while he compelled them to the thorny and ascending path of virtue. Virtue dwells at the head of the river, to which we cannot get but by rowing against the current ; he that walks thro' a large field hath only a narrow path to guide him right in the way ; but on either side there is wide room to wander in.

Every virtue hath two vices that close her up in curious limits, and if she swerve ever so little she steps into error. Religion has superstition and profaneness fortitude, fear and rashnessliberality, avarice and prodigality-justice, rigor and partiality, and so in others; which has occasioned some to define virtue to be a medium between two extremes. Virtue is in truth a war, wherein a man must be perpetual sentinel-it is an obelisk, which though founded in the earth, hath a spire which reaches to heaven-like the palm-tree, though it hath pleasant fruit, it is hard to come at it, for the stem is not easy to climb.

Though surrounded with difficulties, the virtuous man hath a star within, that guides, and shoots its rays of comfort: he hath found the true philosopher's stone, that can analchymy the alloy of life, and by a certain celestial process, can turn all the brass of this world into gold.

APOLOGY FOR THE LOQUACITY OF WOMEN. It is a very ancient adage that nature does nothing in vain. To women she has given the talent of talking more frequently as well as more fluently than men ; she has likewise endowed them with a greater quantity of animation, or what is commonly called animal spirits. Why it may be asked) has nature in this article, so eminently distinguished women from men ?-For the best and wisest' of purposes. The principal destination of all women is to be mothers ; hence some qualities peculiar to such a destination must necessarily have been bestowed upon them: these qualities are numerous--a superior degree of patience, of affection, of minute but useful attentions, joined to an almost incessant speaking.

6 Here, however, I must confine 'my observations to the last conspicuous and eminent accomplishment. To be occupied with laborious offices which demand either bodily or mental exertions, and not unfrequently both, is allotted the men. These causes, besides their comparative natural taciturnity, totally incapacitate them for that loquacity which is requisite for amusing and teaching young children to speak. But employments of women are of a more domestic kind : household affairs, and particularly the nursing and training of children, are sufficient to engross their attention, and to call forth all their ingenuity and active powers. The loquacity of women is too often considered by poets, historians, and unthinking men, as a reproach upon the sex. Men of this description know not what they say. When they blame women for speaking much, they blame nature for one of her wisest institutions. Women speak much--they ought to speak much-nature compels them to speak much; and when they do so, they are complying religiously with one of her most sacred and useful laws. It may be said, that some men talk as much as women ;-granted-but beings of this kind I deny to be men; nature seems originally to have meant them for women, but by some cross accident, as happens in the production of monsters, the external male form has been superinduced upon the female stock.

We doubt whether our, fair readers will be proud of their advocate, or even admit his positions,

WIFE AND HOME. Ir a man be not happy in his own house, where shall be look for bappiness ? It is the proper theatre of a woman's glory, it is the just bounds of a man's felicity. He may indeed, wander in a fruit

« PoprzedniaDalej »