Page images

their broad swords, and in close fight, when unable to use their ordinary weapon, they sud. denly stabbed with the dirk.

“ Their religion, which they called Christia. * nity, was strongly tinctured with the ancient s and barbarons superstitions of the country.

They were universal believers in ghosts and preter-natural appearances. They marked with eager attention the variable forms of their cloudy and changeful sky, from the different aspect of which they foretold future and con.

tingent events : and absorbed in fantastical o imaginations, they perceived in a sort of ec

static vision, things and persons separated from them by a vast interval of space! Each tribe had its particular dogmas and modes of faith, which the surrounding clans regarded with in• difference, or at most with a cold dislike, far removed from the rancour of religious hatred ; and persecution for religion has been, happily, a species of folly and wickedness unknown and unheard of amongst them."--Belsham.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

Is a character entitled to universal esteem and
admiration ; the picture is thus drawn by an
able hand.

LET fancy now present a Woman with a to. lerable understanding, for I do not wish to leave the line of mediocrity, whose constitution, strengthened by exercise, has allowed lter body to acquire its full vigour; her mind, at the same time, gradually expanding itself to comprehend the moral duties of life, and in what human virtue and dignity consist.

Formed thus by the discharge of the rela.

[ocr errors]

tive duties of her station, she marries from af fection, without losing sight of prudence, and looking beyond matrimonial felicity, she secures her husband's respect before it is necessary to exert mean arts to please him and feed a dying fame, which nature doomed to expire when the object became familiar, when friend. ship and forbearance take place of a more ar. dent affection ... This is the natural death ot love, and domestic peace is not destroyed by struggles to prevent extinction,

I also suppose the husband to be virtuous; or she is still more in want of independent principles.

“ Fate, however, breaks this tie.---She is left a widow, perhaps, with a sufficient provision ; but she is not desolate! The pang of nature is felt; but after time has softened sorrow into melancholy resignation, her heart turns to her children with redoubled fondness, and anxious to provide for them, affection gives a sacred heroic cast to her maternal duties. She thinks that not only the eye sees her virtuous efforts from whom all her comfort now must flow, and whose approbation is life; but her imagi. nation, a little abstracted and exalted by grief, dwells on the fond hope that the eyes which her trembling hand closed, may still see how she subdues every wayward passion to fulfil the double duty of being the father as well as the mother of her children. Raised to heroism by misfortunes, she represses the first faint dawn. ing of a natural inclination, before it ripens into love, and in the bloom of life forgets ber sex---forgets the pleasure of an awakening pas. sion, which might again have been inspired and returned. She no longer thinks of pleasing, and conscious dignity prevents her from priding herself on account of the praise which her

[ocr errors]

conduct demands. Her children have her love, and her brightest hopes are beyond the grave, where her imagination often strays.

“I think I see her surrounded by her chil. dren, reaping the reward of her care. The intelligent eye meets hers, whilst health and inpocence smile on their chubby cheeks, and as they grow up, the cares of life are lessened by their grateful attention. She lives to see the virtues which she endeavoured to plant on prin. ciples, fixed into habits, to see her children attain a strength of character sufficient to enable them to endure adversity without for. getting their mother's example.

“ The task of life thus fulfilled, she calmly waits for the sleep of death, and rising from the grave, may say--- Behold, thou gavest me a ta. lent, and here are five talents !Woolstoncraft.


ARE thus accounted for in a manner gratifying to the curiosity; it was first a Saxon custom--then adopted by the professors of Christianity.

[ocr errors]

OUR forefathers, when the devotions of Christmas-eve were over, and night was come on, were wont to light up candles of an enor. mous size, which were called Christmas can. dles, and to lay a log of wood upon the fire, which they termed a yule clog, or Christmas block. These were to illuminate the house, and turn the night into day; which custom, in some measure, is still kept up in the northern parts. It hath, in all probability, been derived from the Saxons. For Bede tells us, that this very night was observed in this land before by the Heathen Saxons. They began, says he,

their year on the eight of the calends of Janu. ary, which is now our Christmas-day, and the very night before, which is now holy to us, was by them called Mædrenack, or the Night of Mothers, because, as we imagine, of those ce. remonies which were performed that night. The yule clog, therefore, hath probably been a part of that night's ceremony. The very name seems to speak it, and tells its original to every age. It seems to have been used as an emblem of the return of the sun, and the length. ening of the days. For as both December and January were called guili or yule upon account of the sun's returning, and the increase of the days, so I am apt to believe the log has had the name of the yule log, from its being burnt as an emblem of the returning sun, and the increase of its light and heat.

“ This was probably the reason of the custom among the Heathen Saxons, but I cannot think the observation of it was continued for the same reason after Christianity was embraced. For Bishop Stillingfeet observes, that “ though the ancient Saxons observed twelve days at that time, and sacrificed to the sun in hopes of his returning, yet wlien Christianity prevailed, all these idolatrous sacrifices were laid aside, and that time of feasting was joined with the religious solemnity of that season, which in other parts of the world were observed by Christians.” And in like manner as the days of teasting were joined with the religious solem. nities of that season, so the keeping up of this custom seems to have been done with another view than it was originally. If a conjecture may be allowed, it might have been done on account of our Saviour's birth, which happened that night. For as the burning of it before

Christianity was an emblem of the coming of the sun, which they worshipped as their God, so the

continuing of it after has been for a symbol of that light which was that night born into the worid !"...Brand.


Is that susceptibility of feeling which lies at the foundation of all rational enjoyment ; it however requires to be kept under proper regulation.


“ SENSIBILITY is the most exquisite feeling of which the human soul is susceptible: when it pervades us, we feel happy; and could it last unmixed, we might form some conjecture of the bliss of those paradisical days, when the obedient passions were under the dominion of reason, and the impulses of the heart did not need correction.

“ It is this quickness, this delicacy of feeling, which enables us to relish the sublime touches of the poet, and the painter ; it is this which expands the soul, gives an enthusiastic greatness, mixed with tenderness, when we view the magnificent objects of nature, or hear of a good action. The same effect we experience in the spring, when we hail the returning sun, and the consequent renovation of nature: when the flowers unfold themselves, and exhale their sweets, and the voice of music is heard in the land. Softened by tenderness; the soul is disposed to be virtuous. Is any sensual gratification to be compared to that of feeling the eyes moistened after having comforted the unfor. tunate ?

“ Sensibility is indeed the foundation of all

« PreviousContinue »