« PrécédentContinuer »
if these notions in their own nature, are likely to produce any good effect towards reforming the vicious, instructing the weak, or guiding the young. I would not every day tell my footmen that their whole fraternity were scoundrels, that lying and stealing were inseparable qualities fron their cloth, that I should think myself very happy in them, if they confined themselves to innocent lies, and would only steal candles' ends. On the contrary, I would say in their presence, that birth and money were accidents of fortune, that no man was to be seriously despised for wanting them, that an honest faithful servant was a character of more value, than an insolent corrupt lord; that the real distinction between man and man lay in integrity, which in une shape or other, generally met with its reward in the world, and, could not fail of giving the highest pleasure, by a consciousness of virtue, which every man feels, that is so happy to pos
With this gentleness would I treat my inferiors; with much greater esteem would I speak to that beautiful half of mankind who are distinguished by petticoats. If I were a divine, I would remember, that in their first creation they were, designed as a help to the other sex, and nothing was ever made incapable of the end of its crea
tion. It is true, the first lady had so little experience that she hearkened to the persuasion of an insolent dangler; and if you mind, he succeeded by persuading her, that she was not so wise as she should be.
Men that are not wise enough to shew any superiority in tlieir arguments, hope to be yielded to by a faith, that as they are men, all the reason that has been allotted to mankind, has fallen to their share. I am seriously of another opinion. As much greatness of mind may be shewn in submission as in command; and some women have suffered a life of hardships with as much philosophy as Cato traversed the desarts of Africa, and without that support which the view of glory offered him, which is enough for the liuman mind that is touched with it to go through any toil or danger. But this is not the situation of a woman, whose virtue must only shine to her own recollection, and loses that name when it is ostentatiously exposed to the world. A lady who has performed her duty as a daughter, a wife, and a mother, raises in us as much veneration as Socrates or Xenophon, and much more than I would
either to Julius Cæsar or Cardinal Mazarine; though the first was the most famous enslaver of his country, and the last the most successful plunderer of his master.
A woman really virtuous, in the utmost extent of this expression, has virtue of a purer kind than any philosopher has ever shewn; since she knows if she has sense, and without it there can be no virtue, that mankind is too much prejudiced against her sex to give her any degree of that fame which is so sharp a spur to their great actions. I have some thoughts of exhibiting a set of pictures of such meritorious ladies, where I shall say nothing of the fire of their eyes or the pureness of their complexions; but give them such praises as befils a rational sensible being, virtues of choice and not beauties of accident.
I beg they would not so far mistake me as to thiok I am undervaluing their charms: a beautiful mind in a beautiful body, is one of the finest objects shewn us by nature. I would not have them place so much value on a quality that can be only useful to one, as to neglect that which inay be of benefit to thousands, by precept or by example. There will be no occasion of amusing themselves with trifles, when they consider themselves capable of not only making the most amiable, but the most estimable figures in life.
Begin then, ladics, by paying those authors with scoru and contempt, who with a sneer of affected admiration, would throw you below the dignity of the human species.
SOLILOQUY OF AN EPHEMERA,
IN A LETTER TO A FRENCH LADY.
(From B. Franklin.)
You may remember, my dear friend, that when we lately spent that happy day, in the delightful garden and happy society of the Moulin Joly, I stopt a little in one of the walks, and staid some time behind one of the company. We had been shewn numberless skeletons of a kind of little fly called an ephemera, whose successive generations we were told were bred and expired within the day. I happened to see a living company of them on a leaf; who appeared to be engaged in conversation.
You know I understand the language of inferior animals; my too great application to the study of them, is the best excuse I can give for the little progress I have made in your charming language. I listened through curiosity to the
discourse of these little creatures; but as they in their national vivacity spoke three or four together, I could make but little of their conversation, I found however, by some broken expressions that I heard now and then, they were warmly disputing on the merit of two foreign musicians, one a gnat, the other a musquito; in which dispute they spent their time, seemingly as regardless of the shortness of life, as if they had been sure of living a month. Happy people! thought 1, you live certainly under a wise, just, and mild government, since you have no public grievances to complain of, nor any subject of contention, but the perfections or imperfections of foreign music.
I turned my head from them to an old grey headed one, who was single on another leaf, and talking to himself. Being amused with his soliloquy, I put it down in writing, in hopes it will likewise amuse her to whom I am so inuch indebted for the most pleasing of all an usements, her delicious company and heavenly harmony.
“ It was," says he," the opinion of learned “ philosopliers of our race, who lived and fou“ rished long before my time, that this vast “ world, the Moulin Joly, could not itself subsist “ more than eighteen hours : and I think there “ was some foundation for their opinion, since,