ページの画像
PDF
ePub

Section XVI.

FONDNESS FOR FASHION INJURIOUS.

As it is probable that most of you will, after the confinement of the school, of the college, of an apprenticeship, or of whatever other early study, pass much of your time in the company of women, it deeply imports you to consider, with what sort of women you should associate. The infinite mischiefs attendant on communication with those miserable females, who have forfeited their honour, I will not attempt to relate. At present I will take it for granted, that the sons of Keason should converse only with the daughters of Virtue.

Of these last, the number is greater than many of you have been told ; much greater than bad men, who judge from bad samples, will ever be persuaded to believe ; and even greater than would be readily expected by the candid and virtuous themselves, were they to take their estimate from the general appearance of women in public life, instead of those private scenes where show and noise are excluded, where the Autter of fashion is forgotten in the silent discharge of domestic duties, and where females of real value are more solicitous to be amiable and accomplished, than alluring and admired. . . . . .

Little, indeed, do those women consult either their own interest, or the reputation of the sex, who enter eagerly into the bustle of the mode, obtrude them. selves on the gaze of the glittering throng, and sacrifice the decent reserves, and intellectual attainments, by which men of sentiments and delicacy are most taken, to the passion for dress, and visiting, and splendour, and prattling, and cards, and assemblies, and masquerades without end.

The coxcombs of the age may be caught by such arts of display, as much as those can be who are so generally captivated with themselves. They, no

[ocr errors]

doubt, will be flattered with what they suppose to be an offering presented at their shrine, a price paid for their admiration. But, depend upon it, my sisters, those men who are formed to be agreeable companions, faithful friends, and good husbands, will not be very, forward to chuse their associates and partners for life, from the faunting train of vanity, or the insipid circle of dissipation. Nor will it always be very easy to convince them, that while the open theatre of the world exhibits so many trivial and insipid characters of the female sex, its more retired situations abound with womea of discretion and significance.

For my own share, I will confess, that I should not have thought so' favourably in general concerning the fair part of the creation, as I now think, had I formed my opinions on this subject in places of gay resort ; where simplicity, soitness, a sedate carriage, and rational conversation, must usually give way to the boasted tone, and brilliant, but illusive figure of the society in vogue, which seems to me a composition of frivolous talk, fantastic manners, expensive outside, servile imitation of the mode, incessant amusement, ruinous guming, and eternal disguise.

May I venture farther, and acknowledge my astonishment, when I have discovered that some sensible and deserving women, who in the country delighted all that came near thein, by a style and deportment perfectly reasonable and highly engaging, yet appeared so forgetful of themselves the moment they plunged into the diversions and tumults of the town. Their heads turn round in the whirl of a fashionable life; and their hearts which went forth to their friends in the quiet of retreat, shrunk and vanished out of sight, in scenes where they apprehended that sentiment, affect.on, confidence, would probably be objects of derision.' So then, Ladies, you could resign those sweetest pleasures of the soul, for the reputation of appearing modish: you could bury your better feelings, and relinquish for weeks and for months, your more respectable pursuits, to

mix familiarly and habitually with the herd of inferior beings, that run mad after superficial amusements, and the poorest objects of low-souled ambition.

Do we mean, that you ought to shut yourselves up from all the resorts of what is called Genteel Com pany, which, to say the truth, is often but another name for well-dressed trifiers? We do not mean, we do not wish it. There are situations and connexions which would render it improper. To minds capable of reflection, the pageant, as it passes in review, may occasion many observations on the emptiness and perturbation of all but piety, worth, and heart-felt enjoyment. Nor is it altogether impossible, that a more correct appearance, a more composed address, friendly hints dropped by accident, improving remarks suggested by good sense, without the affectation of unseasonable gravity, may sometimes leave useful impressions where they were least expected. We only complain, that the friends of virtue should ever be so far entangled in the maze of modern impertinence, as to be afraid of living principally to themselves, to one another, and to the noblest purposes of their being

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

The Preacher, above all other public speakers, ,ought to labour to enrich and adorn, in the most masterly manner, his addresses to mankind : his views being the most important. What great point has the player to gain ?. Why, to draw an audience to the theatre. The pleader at the bar, if he lays before the judges and jury, the true state of the case, and gains the cause of his client, which may be an estate, or at most a life, he accomplishes his end. And of the speaker in a legislature, the very utmost that can be said, is that the good of his country may, in a great measure, depend upon his tongue.

But the infinitely important object of preaching, is the reformation of mankind, upon which depends their happiness in this world, and throughout the whole of their being. And here, if the preacher possesses talents and industry, what a field of eloquence is open before him! The universal and most important interests of mankind ! far beyond those for which the thunder of Demosthenes rolled in Athens ; far beyond those for which Cicero shook the senatehouse of Rome. It is for him to rouse his auditors to a valiant resistance of the most formidable slavery, of the tyranny which is set up in man's own bosom ; and to exhort his hearers to maintain the liberty, the life, and the hopes of the whole human race for ever.

De Of what consequence is it then, that the art of preaching be carried to such perfection, that all may be drawn to places of public instruction, and that those who attend may receive benefit! And if so important a part of preaching be delivery, how necessary must be the study of delivery! That delivery is one of the most important parts of public instruction, is manifest from this, that very indifferent inatter well delivered, will make a considerable impresa sion; while bad utterance never fails to defeat the whole effect of the noblest composition ever produced.

While exorbitant appetite, and unruly passion within, while evil solicitation, with alluring example without; while these invite and ensnare the frail and thoughtless into guilt, shall virtue and religion hold forth no charms to engage votaries: Pleasure decks herself out with rich attire. Soft are her looks, and melting is the sweetness of her voice. And must religion present herself with every disadvantage ? Must she appear quite unadorned ? What chance can she then have, in competition with an enemy so much

N

better furnished with every necessary invitation and allurement? Alas! our preachers do not address innocents in paradise ; but thoughtless and often habituated sinners. Mere cold explaining will have but little effect on such. Weak is the hold which reason has on most men. Few of men have able heads ; but all have hearts, and all hearts may be touched, if the speaker is master of his art. The business is not so much to open the understanding, as to warm the heart. There are few, comparatively speaking, who do not know their duty. To allure them to the doing of it, is the difficulty. This will never be effected by cold reasoning, either read or delivered in such a manner as to disgust, or lull the audience to sleep. Can it be supposed, that an audience is to be warmed to the love of virtue, by a cold though learned ora, tion, either ill-read, or, what is worse, wretchedly delivered? Can it be supposed, that a preacher will win the affections of his hearers, whilst he neglects all the natural means for working upon their passions? Will he kindle in them that burning zeal which suits the most important of all subjects, by talking to them with all the coolness of a stoic philosopher, of the terrors of the Lord, of the worm that never dies, and the fire that is not qucnched, and of future glory, honour, and imimortality, of everlasting kingdoms and heavenly thrones ?

Did preachers labour to acquire a masterly delivery, places of public instruction would be crowded, as well as places of public diversion. Rakes and infidels, merely to show their taste, would frequent them. Could all frequent them, and none profit? It is not supposable, but some who came to scoff, might remain to pray. That such a manner might be acquired, there is no reason to doubt, if preachers were only to bestow due pains to obtain it. What time and labour is requisite to acquire even a tolerable knowledge of the Lacin. language? Were only one half of these spent upon the art of delivery, what an astonishing degree of improvement would take place

« 前へ次へ »