« PreviousContinue »
To which, since I am got into quotations, give me leave to add the saying of an old philosopher, who, after bava ing invited some of his friends to dine with him, was ruffled by his wite, who came into the room in a passion, and threw down the table that stood before them: “ Every one," says he, “ has his calamity, and he is a happy man that has no greater tha; this." We find an iostance to the same purpose in the life of doctor Hammond, written by Bishop Fell. As this go d man was troubled with a complication of distempers, when he had the gout upon him, he used to thank God it was not the stone; and, when he had the stone, that he had oot both these distempers at the same time.
I cannot conclude this essay, without observing, that there was never any system, besides that of Christianity, which would effectually produce in the mind of man the virtue I have been hitherto speaking of. In order to make us contented with our condition, many of the present philosophers tell us, that our discontent only hurts ourselves, without being able to make any alteration in our circumstances; others, that wbatever evil befals us is derived to us by a fatal necessity, to which the gods themselves are subject; while others very gravely tell the man who is miserable, that it is necessary he should be so, to keep up the harmony of the universe, and that the scheme of Providence would be troubled and perverted were he otherwise. These, and the like considerations, rather silence than satisfy a man. They may shew him that his discontent is unreasonable, but are by no means sufficient to relieve it. They rather give despair than consolation. In a word, a man might reply to one of these comforters, as Augustus did to his friend, who advised him not to grieve for the death of a person whom he loved, because his grief could not fetch him again : " It is for that very reason," said the Emperor, " that I grieve."
On the contrary, religion bears a more tender regard to human nature. It prescribes to every miserable man the means of bettering his condition : Nay, it shows him that the bearing of his affli&tions as he ought to do, will naturally end in the removal of them. It makes him easy here, because it can make him happy hereafter,
XI.-Needle work recommended to the Ladies.-İB. ST HAVE a couple of nieces under my direction,
who so often run gadding abroad, tbat I do not know where to have them. Their dress, their tea, and their visits take up all their time, and they go to bed as tired with doing nothing as I am after quilting a whole under. petticoat. The whole time they are not idle, is while they read your Spectators ; which being dedicated to the interest of virtue, I desire you to recommend the long nego lected art of needlework. Those hours which in this age, are thrown away in dress, play, visits, and the like, were employed in my time in writing out receipts, or working beds, chairs, and hangings for the family. For my part, I have plied my needle these fifty years, and by my good will woull never have it out of my hand. It grieves my heart to see a couple of proud idle siirts sipping their tea, for a whole afternoon, in a great rooms hung round with the industry of their great grandmother. Pray, sir, take the laudable mystery of embroidery into your serious consideration, and as you have a great deal of the virtue of the last age in you, continue your endeav. ors to reform the present."
In obedience to the commands of my venerable correspondent, I have duly weighed this important subject, and promise myself from the arguments here laid down, that all the fine ladies in England will be ready, as soon as their mourning is over, to appear covered with the work of their own hands.
What a delightful entertainment must it be to the fair sex, whom their native modesty, and the tenderness of men towards them, exempts from public business, to pass their hours in imitating fruits and flowers, and transplanting all the beauties of nature into their own dress, or raising a new creation in their clothes and apartments. How pleasing is the amusement of walking among the shades and groves pianted by themselves, in surveying heroes slain by their needles, or little cupids which they bave brought into the world without pain.
This is methinks, the most proper way wherein a la dy can show a fine genius, and I cannot forbear wishing that several writers of that sex, had chosen rather to ap
ply themselves to tapestry than rhyme. Your pastoral poetesses may vent their fancy in rural landscapes, and place despairing shepherds under siken willows, or drown them in a stream of mobair. The heroic writers may work up battles as successfully, and entlame them with gold or stain them with crimson. Even those who have only a turn to a song, or an epigram, may put many valuable stiches into a purse, and crowd a thousand graoes into a pair of garters.
If I may without a breach of good manners, imagine that any pretty creature is void of genius, and wonld perforın her part herein but very awk warıly, I must bevertheless insist upon her working, if to be only to keep her out of harm's way.
Another argument for busying good women in works of fancy, is, because it takes them off from scandal, the usual attendant of tea.tables, and all otheir inactive scenes of life. While they are forming their birds and beasts, their neighbors will be allowed to be the fathers of their own children; and Whig and Tory will be but seldom mentioned where the great dispute is whether blue or red is the more proper color. How much greater glory would Sophrona do to the general, if she would choose rather to work the battle of Blenheim iu tapestry, than signalize herself, with so much vehemence, against those who are Frenchmen in their hearts.
A third reason that I shall mention, is the profit that is brought to the family where these pretty arts are en. couraged. It is manifest this way of life not only keeps fair ladies from running out into expenses, but it is at the same time, an actual improvement.' How memorable would that matron be, who shall have it inscribed upon ber monument, " that she wrote out the whole Bible in tapestry, and died in a good old age, after having covered three hundred yards of wall in the mansion house ?"
These premises being considered, I humbly subroit the following proposals to all mothers in Great Britain.
I. That no young virgin whatsoever be allowed to re. ceive the addresses of her first lover but in a suit of her own embroidering.
II. That before every fresh servant she be obliged to appear with a new síomacher at the least.
III. That no one be actually married until she hatb the chi ried, pillows, &c. ready stitched, as likewise the mantle for the boy quite finished.
These laws, if I mistake not, would effectually restore the decayed art of needlework, and make the virgios of Great Britain exceedingly nimble fingered in their business.
XII. - On Pride.-GUARDIAN. TF there be any thing that makes huinan nature ap
pear ridiculous to beings of superior faculties, it must be pride. They know so well the vanity of those ima. ginary perfections that swell the heart of man, and of those little supernumerary advantages, whether in birth, fortune or title, which one man enjoys above another, that it must certainly very much astonish, if it does not very much divert them, when they see a mortal puffed up, and valuing himself above his neighbors, on any of these accounts, at the same time that he is obnoxious to all the common calamities of the species.
To set this thought in its true light, we will fancy, if you please, that yonder molehill is inhabited by reasona. ble creatures, and that every pismire (his shape and way of life only excepted) is endowed with human passions. How should we smile to hear ope give us an account of the pedigrees, distinciions and titles that reign among them? Observe how the whole swarm divide, and make way for the pismire that passes through them; you must understand he is an emmet of quality, and has better blood in his veins than any pismire in the molehill. Don't you see how sensible he is of it, how slow he marches forward, how the whole rable of ants keep their distance ? Here you may observe one placed upon a little eminence, and looking down on a long row of laborers. He is the richest insect on this side of the hillock, he has a walk of half a yard in length, and a quarter of an inch in breadth, he keeps an hundred menial servants, and has at least fifteen barley corns in his granary. He is now chiding and beslaving the emmet that stands before him, and who for all that we can discover, is as good an emmet as him. self.
But here comes an insect of figure ! Don't you take
Botice of a little white straw he carries in his mouth! That straw, you must understand, he would not part with for the longest tract about the molebill: Did you but know what he has undergone to purchase it! See how the ants of all qualities and conditions swarm about him. Should this straw drop out of bis mouth, 'you would see all this numerous circle of attendants follow the next that took it up, and leave the discarded insect, or run over his back to come at its successor.
If now you have a mind to see all the ladies of the molehill, observe first the pismire that listens to the emmet on her left hand, at the same time that she seems to turn away her head from him. He tells this poor insect she is a goddess, that her eyes are brighter than the sun, that life and death are at her disposal. She believes him, and gives herself a thousand little airs upon it. Mark the vanity of the pismire on your left hand. She can scarce crawl with age, but you must know she values herself upon ber birth; and if you mind, spurns at every ope that comes within her reach. The little nimble coquet that is running along by the side of her is a wit. She has broke mamy a pismire's heart. Do but observe what a drove of lovers are running after her.
We will here finish this imaginary scene ; but first of all to draw the parallel closer, will suppose, if you please, that death comes upon the mole bill, in the shape of a cock sparrow, who picks up, without distinction, the pismire of quality and bis flatterers, the pismire of sub. stance and liis day laborers, the wbitestraw officer and his sycophants, with all the goddesses, wits, and beauties of the rolehill.
May we not imagine, that beings of superior natures and perfections regard all the instances of pride and vanity, among our own species in the same kind of view, when they take a survey of those who inhabit the earth, or in the language of an ingenious French poet, of those pismires that people this heap of dirt, which human vanity has divided into climates and regions.
XIII.-Journal of the life of Alexander Severus.--Gibbon. * ALEXANDER rose early. The first moments of the A day were consecrated to private devotion : Lut as