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To raise esteem we must benefit others, to procure love we must please them. Aristotle observes, that old men do not readily form friendships, because they are not easily susceptible of pleasure. He that can contribute to the hilarity of the vacant hour, or partake with equal gust the favorite amusement; he whose mind is employed on the same objects, and who therefore never harasses the understanding with unaccustomed ideas, will be welcomed with ardor, and left with regret, unless he destroys those recommendations by faults with which and security cannot consist.
It were happy, if, in forming friendships, virtue could concur with pleasure; but the greatest part of human gratifications approach so nearly to vice, that few who make the delight of others their rule of conduct, can avoid disingenuous compliances; yet certainly he that suffers himself to be driven or allured from virtue, mistakes his own interest, since he gains succor by means for which his friend, if ever he becomes wise, must scorn him, and for which at last he must scorn himself.
POETICAL SCRIBBLERS.-Miss H. MORE.
A romantic girl with a pretension to sentiment, which her still more ignorant friends mistake for genius, (for in the empire of the blind, the one-eyed are kings,) and possessing something of a natural ear, has perhaps in her childhood exhausted all the images of grief, and love, and fancy, picked up in her desultory poetical reading, in an elegy on a sick linnet, or a sonnet on a dead lap-dog; she begins thenceforward to be considered as a prodigy in her little circle; surrounded with fond and flattering friends, every avenue to truth is shut out; she has no opportunity of learning that her fame is derived, not from her powers, but her position; and that when an impartial critic shall have made all the necessary deductions, such as—that she is a neighbor, that she is a relation, that she is a female, that she is young, that she has had no advantages, that she is pretty, perhaps when her verses come to be stripped of all their extraneous appendages, and the fair author is driven off her 'vantage ground of partiality, sex, and favor, she will commonly sink to the level of ordinary capacities. While those more quiet women, who have meekly sat down in the humble shades of prose and prudence, by a patient perseverance in
rational studies, rise afterwards much higher in the scale of intellect, and acquire a much larger stock of sound knowledge,
for far better purposes than mere display. And though it may seem a contradiction, yet it will generally be found true, that girls who take to scribble, are the least studious, the least reflecting, and the least rational. They early acquire a false confidence in their own unassisted powers; it becomes more gratifying to their natural vanity to be always pouring out their minds on paper, than to be drawing into them fresh ideas from richer sources. The original stock, small perhaps at first, is soon spent. The subsequent efforts grow more and more feeble, if the mind, which is continually exhausting itself, be not also continually replenished; till the latter compositions become little more than reproductions of the same ideas, and fainter copies of the same images, a little varied and modified perhaps, and not a little diluted and enfeebled.
It will be necessary to combat vigilantly that favorite plea of lively ignorance, that study is any enemy to originality. Correct the judgment, while you humble the vanity of the young, untaught pretender, by convincing her that those half-formed thoughts and undigested ideas which she considers as proofs of her invention, prove only, that she wants taste and knowledge; that while conversation must polish, and reflection invigorate her ideas, she must improve and enlarge them by the accession of various kinds of virtuous and elegant literature; and that the cultivated mind will repay with large interest the seeds sown in it by judicious study. Let it be observed, I am by no means encouraging young ladies to turn authors; I am only reminding them, that
Authors before they write should read;
I am only putting them in mind, that to be ignorant is not to be original.
These self-taught and self-dependent scribblers pant for the unmerited and unattainable praise of fancy and of genius, while they disdain the commendation of judgment, knowledge, and perseverance, which would probably be within their reach. To extort admiration, they are accustomed to boast of an impossible rapidity in composing; and while they insinuate how little time their performances cost them, they intend you should infer how perfect they might have made them, had they condescended to the drudgery of application; but application with them implies defect of genius. They take superfluous pains
to convince you that there was neither learning nor labor employed in the work for which they solicit your praise. Alas! the judicious eye too soon perceives it! though it does not perceive that native strength and mother wit, which in works of real genius make some amends for the negligence which yet they do not justify. But instead of extolling these effusions for their facility, it would be kind in friends rather to blame them for their crudeness; and when the young candidates for fame are eager to prove in how short a time such a poem has been struck off, it would be well to regret that they had not either taken a longer time, or refrained from writing at all; as in the former case the work would have been less defective, and in the latter the writer would have discovered more humility and self-distrust.
FEMALE ROMANCE.-MRS. SANDFORD.
Most women are inclined to be romantic. This tendency is not confined to the young or to the beautiful; to the intellectual or to the refined. Every woman capable of strong feeling is susceptible of romance; and though its degree may depend on external circumstances, or education, or station, or excitement, it generally exists, and requires only a stimulus for its develop
Romance is, indeed, the charm of female character. Without it no woman can be interesting; and though its excess is a weakness, and one which receives but little indulgence, there is nothing truly generous or disinterested, which does not imply its existence. It is that poetry of sentiment which imparts to character or incident something of the beautiful or the sublime; which elevates us to a higher sphere; which gives an ardor to affection, and a life to thought, and a glow to imagination; and which lends so warm and sunny a hue to the portraiture of life, that it ceases to appear the vulgar, and cold, and dull, and monotonous reality, which common sense alone would make it.
But it is this opposition between romance and sobriety that excites so strong a prejudice against the former. It is associated in the minds of many with felly alone. A romantic, silly girl is the object of their contempt; and they so recoil from this personification of sentiment, that their chief object seems to be to divest themselves altogether of its delusion. Life is
to them a mere calculation; expediency is their maxim,—propriety, their rule,-profit, ease, or comfort, their aim; and they have at least this advantage,-that while minds of higher tone, and hearts of superior sensibility, are often harassed and wounded, and even withered, in their passage through life, they proceed in their less adventurous career, neither chilled by the coldness, nor sickened by the meanness, nor disappointed by the selfishness of the world. They virtually admit, though they often theoretically deny, the baseness of human nature, and, strangers to disinterestedness themselves, they do not expect to meet with it in others. They are content with a low degree of enjoyment, and are thus exempted from much poignant suffering; and it is only when the casualties of life interfere with their individual ease, that we can perceive that they are not altogether insensible.
A good deal of this phlegmatic disposition exists in many who are capable of higher feeling. Such persons are so afraid of sensibility, that they repress in themselves every thing that savors of it; and though we may occasionally detect it in the mounting flush, or in the glistening tear, or in the half-stifled sigh, it is in vain that we endeavor to elicit any more explicit avowal. They are ashamed even of what they do betray; and one would imagine, that the imputation of sensibility were almost a reflection on their character. They must not feel, or, at least, they must not allow that they feel; for feeling has led so many persons wrong, that decorum can be preserved, they think, only by indifference. And they end in becoming really as callous as they wish to appear; and stifle emotion so successfully, that at length it ceases to give them uneasiness.
Such is often the case with many who pass through life with great decorum; and though women have naturally more sensibility than the other sex, they too, sometimes, consider its indulgence altogether wrong. Yet, if its excess be foolish, it is surely a mistake to attempt to suppress it altogether; for such attempt, will either produce a dangerous revulsion, or, if successful, will spoil the character. One would rather, almost, that a woman were ever so romantic, than that she always thought, and felt, and spoke by rule; and should deem it preferable that her sensibility brought upon her occasional distress, than that she always calculated the degree of her feeling.
Life has its romance, and to this it owes much of its charm. It is not that every woman is a heroine, and every individual history a novel; but there are scenes and incidents in real life
so peculiar, and often so poetic, that we need not be indebted to fiction for the development of romance. Christians will trace such scenes and incidents immediately to Providence, and they do so with affectionate and confiding hearts; and the more affecting or remarkable these may be, the more clearly do they recognize the Divine interference. They regard them as reminiscences of heaven, to recall to them their connection with it, and remind them, that whatever there may be to interest or excite their feelings here, there is infinitely more to affect and warm their hearts in the glorious and glowing prospects beyond.
It is natural that women should be very susceptible to such impressions; that they should view life with almost a poetic eye; and that they should be peculiarly sensitive to its vicissitudes. And though a Quixotic quest after adventures is as silly as it is vain; and to invest every trifle with importance, or to see something marvelous in every incident, is very preposterous: there is no reason why the imagination should not grasp whatever is picturesque, and the mind dwell upon whatever is impressive, and the heart warm with whatever is affecting in the changes and chances of our pilgrimage. There is, indeed, a great deal of what is low and mean in whatever is connected with this world, quite enough to sully the most glowing picture; but let us sometimes view life with its golden tints,--let us sometimes taste its ambrosial dews,-let us sometimes breathe its more ethereal atmosphere: and let us do so, not as satisfied with any thing it can afford,—not as entranced by any of its illusions; but as those who catch, even in this dull mirror, a shadowy delineation of a brighter world, and who pant for what is pure, celestial, and eternal. This is surely better than clipping the wings of imagination, or restraining the impulses of feeling, or reducing all our joys and sorrows to
mere matters of calculation or of sense.
They are indeed to be pitied, who err in the opposite extreme -whose happiness or misery is entirely ideal; but we have within us such a capacity of both, independent of all outward circumstances, and such a power of extracting either from every circumstance, that it is surely wiser to discipline such a faculty, than to disallow its influence.
Youth is, of course, the season for romance. Its buoyant spirit must soar, till weighed down by earthly care. It is in youth that the feelings are warm, and the fancy fresh; and that. there has been no blight to chill the one or to wither the other.