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able struggle between duty and inclination, to save a pittance now and then for better purposes ; and some did certainly seem to know, that though it was to them the most important business of life, their attention might at intervals be lawfully diverted into other channels. If any young lady feels that it does not apply to her wholly, she may consider whether it does not so in part: and she may do well to consider also the rapid growth of folly, and that what begins but in an idle habit, may become a resistless propensity.
It may be further objected, that it applies only to people of fashion, or to those we comprise under the more extensive term of people of the world. To this I can only say, I wish it were so: but I am sorry to know it applies no less in the household of the frugal and industrious tradesman; it applies in the most retired paths of domestic life; in the chambers of poverty, sickness, and privation ; it applies not unfrequently, to the professors of a religion that renounces the vanities and follies of the world. Let me not be understood to say that religion interferes, in this or in any thing, with the distinctions and proprieties of wealth and station. It does not require of the gentlewoman to be dressed like a peasant or a housemaid, nor in any way to mark herself by an eccentric departure from the proprieties of the station in which Providence has placed her: there may be as much love of distinction in this, as in its opposite excess. But there is inconsistency in the love of dress, and eagerness about it, and time and pains spent upon it, that are seen to survive all other adherence to the laws of fashion.
And if I have rightly spoken of the evil, where is its cause, and where its remedy? I have already said, I believe we are propense by nature to this folly;
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and instead of avoiding its growth, we culture it, we teach it to our children as duly as their creed. The nurse talks to the baby of her pretty new frock, long before the baby knows what she says; and, a little later, appeases her temper and her tears by the pleasure of putting it on, long before she could know it was a pleasure, if she were not told so. The mother holds out the promise of a new sash or a new trimming, as a bribe or a reward for good conduct. The no wiser friends come in to assist them, with birth-day presents of trinkets, buckles, and bracelets; and no pains are spared to impress on the children the happiness of wearing these things, and of being seen to wear them. Now, it is certain that, in these early years, what we are persuaded to think an enjoyment soon becomes one; and, in little more, an habitual desire. And to what purpose is all this? Might not children be as well dressed without hearing of it? Might not the presents and rewards be something to use, or to play with, or even to look at, so it did not encourage so foolish and irrational a propensity? And, as they grow up, might they not be accustomed to dress themselves with good taste and propriety, as a thing of course, without making it a subject of pain and pleasure? I have heard some mothers, after spending whole days in ornamenting a child's dress, consulting over it, talking about it, and admiring it in her presence, when it came to be put on, and the little creature's eyes began to sparkle with delight, very sagely desire her not to be vain, it did not signify how she was dressed, so she was a good girl. Did the child believe it? She must have more than infantine credulity if she did. On the contrary, the child knew well enough that it was because it was thought fitted to excite exultation, that she was cautioned against feeling any. Had she
heard nothing about the matter from first to last, she would probably not have thought of it at all.
But whatever they have been taught to think, my young friends
rest assured that their dress is not a proper subject of eagerness, care, or pleasure. I do not tell them it does not signify how they look or what they wear. It signifies a great deal that every one should be as genteel, neat, and agreeable in their appearance, as their situation will allow. And whether their personal attractions be many or few, it signifies that they wear with simplicity what is graceful and becoming. All this may be done without liking it, thinking about it, or talking about it; and all beyond this is a degradation of their character and powers as rational, intellectual, and immortal beings : and, worse than most other follies, it answers no purpose whatever. If they mean it to make them look better, it does not: if they mean it to make them more highly estimated, it does not : if they mean to pass this waste of time and thought upon the world and themselves for the virtues of industry and economy, alas ! what will they think of the mistake, when, their years told out, and time about to be no more, they look back and say, “ Ten hours, eight hours, six, five of each one of my numbered days have I expended in clothing and adorning my body, now about to perish, naked and loathsome, in the dust ?"
AN ALLEGOR Y.
And the illustration that has been given here of the mingled grace and majesty of God, will never lose its place among the themes and acclamations of eternity.
WALKING, one noontide, silent and alone, and something oppressed by a still and sultry atmosphere, I laid myself down upon a mound of grass beneath the shelter of a tree; and, while all around me was sunshine and tranquillity, most strangely betook myself to think of tempests and the storm. Fleetly and prompt the consciousness of all things present passed from my mind. I no longer perceived the sun riding in midday splendour through the cloudless heavens, nor heard the rippling of the stream that stole through the herbage at my feet. My senses became absorbed in the distant wanderings of my mind, and imagination carried me, I know not whither, and say not how, to some far region, where I either saw, or dreamed, or feigned, or fancied, whichever may seem most probable, the following moving incident. I am not without hope that my readers may find the interpretation of it, without the aid of the Babylonish Magi.
In idea I had joined myself to a company of men who were walking blithely between the overhanging cliff and the waters of the ocean. The tide was out, the road was broad and smooth; flowers bloomed fair on it on every side : the sun, scarcely yet be
ginning to decline, veiled at intervals its splendours behind fleecy clouds, appearing and disappearing as they flitted past him, giving increased beauty to the scene by the rapid interchange of light and shadow. Large companies of men were disappearing in the distance before us; but as the road had many windings, and a pale blue mist was on the air, we could distinguish little of their
forms, and nothing of the issue of their journey. Behind us, too, as far as eye could reach, there were others advancing by the way
But the party to which I had joined myself was small. I listened attentively to their discourse, and soon perceived there was a dispute amongst them as to the road they were to take.
“ Pause yet a moment,” said one, whom, from his discourse, I supposed to be Prudens ; “it is well at least that we consider of our path, before we go too far to retreat, if we be wrong. It is true, here is space enough, and a fair beaten way. But yonder murmuring tide will briefly steal back upon us. This cliff, too, that bounds us on the other side—we might ascend it now, but it seems to me to become more steep and difficult as we advance. What if, as night approaches and the sun declines, we be enclosed in some dread pass, where nothing can save us from the ingulfing water ?"
“ It is not very likely,” said Rationalis. Why should a road be made so smooth and pleasant if it is not to be trodden ? Most clearly, toil and care have been spent in making it, and nature has delighted to adorn it. Yonder, too, if I mistake not, are the distant towers of our future home. Far off, it is true, and scarcely visible, but so exactly opposite, that it were folly to turn aside and seek another path, when one so open and direct is lying here before us.”