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small part of the value of the hook. As a matter of. course, she avoids mentioning the names of any of the persons whose conduct supplied these anecdotes; but notwithstanding this observance of the rules of benevolence and decorum, we have sometimes been apprehensive, that, since it is likely some of the persons whose follies she has recorded will read her work, she may excite a resentment which, in some possible instance, may occasion her a little exercise of her philosophy. We have repeatedly imagined some high-spirited dame or gentleman throwing down the book with indignation, and exclaiming, " This impudent writer means me; I know who she is now; I said some thing like this at such a time, and I remember this Mrs. was there; 'pon my honour I will be re^
ranged, that I will. Such scandalous impertinence! And so this civil-speaking demure-faced hypocrite makes her visits to write down every body's faults and what every body says, and then puts it in a moralizing canting book, to make herself look wiser than her neighbours." If she is secure of impunity, we have certainly reason to be pleased that she has taxed, for contributions to her book, so many individuals, families, and companies, who little imagined that they were uttering speeches, that were to be printed for the purpose of enforcing moral and prudential instructions.
Our author uses the term Affectation, not in the confined sense in which it frequently occurs, as descriptive of merely a particular fault in manners; but in its widest signification, as applicable to all assumed false appearances, in the vvhole social conduct of mankind. And her extensive and vigilant observation has detected a greater variety of modes of affectation, than we had apprehended to be in existence. These she has arranged in two parallel lists of opposites; as, Courage—Cowardice; Modesty and Innocence—Boldness and Impudence, &c. &c, making her remarks on them in a series of pairs, in each of which two opposites are placed immediately together. A somewhat too systematical adherence to this plan, has led her into an impropriety, as she herself is partly sensible, at the section on the affectation of the virtue of Truth. Taking this term in the sense of veracity, she acknowledges there is no opposite affectation to be found; as no one ever laboured or wished to sustain the character of a liar. Taken in the sense of sincerity or plain speaking, (and, by the way, her remarks have very much confused this sense with the former) it is surely opposed to some thing quite different from bluntness, which she has assigned as it opposite; since bluntness is only this very same plain-speaking, carried to such an excess as to become rudeness.
A benevolent intention appears to pervade the book, though it is throughout a satire on society and on human nature. Her censures are often in the plainest style of moral simplicity and seriousness, while her descriptions are ludicrous. And we can really believe that she has been more grieved, than diverted, by the results of that process of detection, to which she has subjected all the companies in which she has mingled. But we are sorry to be compelled to entertain so good an opinion of her dispositions. We have laboured in vain to persuade ourselves that she is a stranger to all the virtues allied to candour and generosity. And why labour for so odd a purpose? Because, in reading through her book, we have been continually reminded of one sentence in the earlier part of it. "Generosity is always unsuspicious, and fancies more virtue than really exists; nay, is sometimes too credulous, but if this be an error it is a most pleasing one." (p. 40) We have said to ourselves at the end of each section, " Now if we were certain that she has none of this generosity, we might console ourselves by the persuasion that the case is not quite so bad as she represents. But on the contrary we are afraid she is generous; she has therefore the kindly credulity which judges far too favourably of mankind; and if she, who views them in a<light so much more favourable than that of absolute truth, sees, notwithstanding, that at least half their intercourse consists* in mutual hypocrisy, what would be pronounced of them by a person, who with equal shrewdness should not have generosity enough to beguile the judgement into such an error?
While we wish our author may have, the good fortune to preserve her generosity undiminished, we may have some difficulty to forgive her for having lessened ours. After beingmade the witnesses of her course of experiments, in which so many things have been divested of their first appearances, we are afraid we shail not for some time be able to enter into any society, without a suspicion too watchful for the indulgence of the friendly feelings. We shall be repeating to ourselves, "They are not what they seen;;" and instead of objects of kindness, shall be tempted to regard them as mere subjects to try and sharpen our sagacity upon. We may be in danger of feeling like a man who is so intent on detecting a, number of persons appearing in masks, that he is almost pleased with the most lamentable accident that makes one of these masks fall off. Even in our capacity of reviewers, the impression of her book may affect us, in a manner unfortunate tor the feelings of men, whose highest gratification is well known to consist in the exercise of candour, and the conferring of praise. She can easily believe, that we shall deeply regret to feel, that we have in any degree lost that amiable simplicity and credulity, with which we have been accustomed. lb, read dedications and panegyrics; expressions of the humble opinion entertained by authors concerning their books; accounts of their reluctance and hesitation to publish, tilt the importunity of friends prevailed; wishes that some abler hand may take up the subject; avowals of having neither expectation nor desire of fame; and disinterested professions, that it will be a sufficient reward if but one person shall be benefited bv the performance.
Previously to an actual survey of mankind, it might b£ supposed, that the qualities, of which men assume a false semblance to recommend themselves, should be almost all good ones. But the volume before us illustrates the strange fact, that almost every disagreeable and detestable distinction of character is sometimes affected, as well as its opposite. At the same time it is proper to observe, that in the case of some of these disagreeable and odious, things, the affectation necessarily is the reality; as for instance, arrogance, impudence, roughness and harshness, intemperance, and impiety. With regard to this last especially, we do not see how there can be any room to apply the term affectation, excepting merely to an insincere disavowal of religious belief; for as to all the hateful expressions of profaneness, they are bond fide absolute impiety, without any qualification. Indeed it is but justice to our excellent author to say, that i* the section on Impiety she does chiefly confine the term affectation to this insincere disavowal of belief; but in the section on Impatience she has applied the term to swearing, and the most horrid imprecations. It is true indeed that this imprecation and swearing may be mentioned as the affectation of impatience; but this leaves the guilt under but an equivocal and therefore faint condemnation; since unless a further distinction is strongly marked, the term affectation, which should be confined strictly to the feigned impatience, may seem as if it were a sufficient term of censure for the impiety also, and implied that the chief guiltof the impiety, in this instance, were merely in its being the language of affectation. It should be distinctly stated that the feigned impatience is one bad thing, or at least foolish thing, and that the impiety employed to support this affectation is another and incomparably worse. We were not pleased with the remark in this section, that the "impious habit taints manner with an offensive vulgarity." The consideration of mere nianners, does not deserve to be mentioned or recollected in connection with the diabolical language, which she has just recited as what she had herself heard. But we would not for a moment be understood to insinuate, that our author shews any intentional indulgence to the vile custom; on the contrary, she evidently feels the most emphatical abhorrence of it: we Vol. III. M
only remark in this instance a want of clear distinction ia her condemnation of it.—She mentions a curious circumstance in the section on the affected contempt of religion.
- u That believing and trembling are often mixed with apparent contempt of duty, 1 know to he a fact,from the very resectable authority of an elderly person, who was for years a constant attendant on six o'clock morning prayersj $nd who has assured me that at that vulgar hour it was by no means uncommon to meet fashionable young men, whose usual conversation was of the lightest sort, and who in gay company would haw scoffed at going to church, where they would have thought it a disgrace to be seen at a late hour." p. 105.
There is a great difference between that prudent and necessary self-government, by which a man avoids the practical exhibition of the bad or foolish dispositions which he feels, and regrets to ieel, and that simulation of the direct contrary qtialities, which may justly be termed affectation. That which our author condemns, as affectation, is generally a very discriminative and strongly delineated picture of what truly deservos the name. In a very few instances, however, we have thought that what she censures may be no more, than such a cautious repression of feelings as a wise man would often wish to exert. In many cases in life, both virtue and common sense forbid to let all out. And we have now and then wished that our respectable author, when describing what was overdone in the way of feigning a good quality, had defined what would be just enough done in the way of concealing a bad one. At the same time it is to be observed, that this care to avoid displaying a bad quality, should be ever accompanied with an effort and earnest wish for the destruction of its existence.
In several instances our author makes assertions, at which, considering her discernment in human character, we could not help being surprised. "Gratitude, she says, (pp. 42, 43,) seems so natural, as for it to be impossible ever to affect that which must, without any effort, belong to every being that exists. It is in the most exalted manner constantly directed towards the Giver of all good, in whom we live, move, and have our being. Gratitude to God certainly admits not of affectation; we aft must, we all do feel it'' Surely sentences like these were written, either under the immediate impression of somepleasing circumstance which deluded the author's judgement into an extravagant charity, or in a moment of great inattention. For it would seem impossible she should not be aware of the notorious and melancholy fact, that vast numbers of persons, even of respectable education, and in what is called a Christian «ou«try, do not appear to feel one emotion of pious gra
titude throughout the whole year. They may now and the^j utter the expression " Thank God," or some similar phrase, which, in their careless manner of using it, is no better than absolute profaneness, while their general language abound* with direct insults to the Almighty. They never, as far as can he observed, spend one moment in any thing like devotional employment; and instead of that conscientious obedience, which would be the evidence of gratitude to the Supreme Benefactor, the tenour of their conduct but evinces alternate forgetfulness and contempt of his commands.
We could not help noticing one little circumstance of inconsistency in her manner of mentioning the subject of cards, in two or three different parts of the book. Playing at cards "is at best, even when it injures neither fortune nor temper (and how seldom does that happen) a total waste of time, which might indisputably be better employed." (p. 213.) "I see no merit in actually not knowing how to play at cards, and no want of good sense in occasionally making up tha party of those persons to whom it is an amusement" (p. 178.) "In a dictatorial style to decry, or to announce contempt for, what is the entertainment of so many people, is the sign of a weak understanding, of affected, and not of true, prudence." (p. 214.) If these passages had fallen under her eye at once, she would have felt the necessity of some alteration. And would it not have been obvious to her, what alteration? All moral speculation must be a dream, if that, which is pronounced to be at best a " total waste of time," should not therefore be absolutely and unconditionally condemned. Is our estimate of time come at last to this, that it is a thing which, may be totally wasted without guilt? It is true that a person may declare against cards in an affected manner; but the expressions we have quoted, apparently go the length of attributing affectation not only to a particular manner, but also to the thing itself. A man may " decry and announce contempt" from a motive less dignified than a purely moral one; but it is not easy to conceive any thing more deserving of contempt, than, the grave employment for hours together of a number of rational beings in what she describes as a "laborious amusement, which demands more application of the mind than is required for the attainment of many a more desirable art,'* and which after all is at best but a total waste of time. If there be any possible case, in which we can be certain of not misplacing our contempt of the employment, and our censure of the persons, it must be this.
In page 114, she alludes to "the amusements suited to the age" of young persons, in a way to include "dancing at the ball." We think it would have well become the good sense