« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
eretion. Let thy motives be pure, let thy life be virtuous, and receive the best wishes and the parting blessing of Odallah!"
I quitted my aged friend with sentiments of profound respect, and feelings of grateful affection. The impatience of curiosity was too vehement to be repressed; and the first experiment convinced me, that the Bramin of Orissa had not magnified the qualities of my extraordinary Mirror.While the Calypso was bearing me to the shores of my native country, it proved a never-failing source of wonder and amusement. I shall, however, omit any account of its operations, until my arrival in the vast metropolis, where I was soon introduced, by my fortune and connections, to the tables of the great and the circles of the gay. Here, by the aid of my silent companion, I was enabled to penetrate the remotest recesses of the heart of man-to discover the secret springs of human action-to detect the wiles of ambition and the schemes of avarice-to watch the beauty to her toilet, and the devotee to his closet-to trace vanity through all her labyrinths, and to strip hypocrisy of his mask.
Having now arrived at that period, when most men resolve to choose a companion for life, I was desirous of meeting with one, who could partake of my studies and my pleasures, my sorrows and my joys; whose knowledge could help me in difficulty, and whose tenderness would soothe me in affliction. Such a woman I did not think it impossible to find amidst the large circle in which I now moved.
The lady who first attracted my particular notice, and to whom I was introduced by an intimate friend, was the amiable Lucinda. She was the daughter of a dignitary of the English church, and left at an early age in the possession of an ample fortune. To an uncommon sweetness of temper, and a person sufficiently pleasing, she added manners peculiarly affable and engaging. But the loveliest graces of Lucinda's character were piety and benevolence-a piety fervid as the meridian beam, a benevolence active as the ocean-wave. For five years since the death of her father, had the temple of her God witnessed the constancy of her attendance and the ardour of her devotion. A hundred charitable societies and public schools were honoured by her patronage, and supported by her bounty. Her hand smoothed the pillow of sickness; her prayers stilled the terrors of death. The mourner was consoled by her sympathy; the prisoner relieved by her purse; and the blessing of him that was ready to perish followed her footsteps. Wherever she appeared, her name inspired veneration, her presence commanded respect, and every tongue was loud in the praises of Lucinda.
I soon becante a constant visitor at her house, and had no reason to complain of the coldness of my reception. By degrees, the charms of her society engaged my affections, and the excellence of her character won my esteem. Other objects now lost their influence. Amusements were abandoned, study was neglected, and my mornings and evenings were given to love and to Lucinda.
Thrice happy Vivaldo, I exclaimed, how highly art thou favoured! Thus early to meet with a woman, so nobly gifted, so richly endowed, whose proud prerogative it is " to dread no eye, and to suspect no tongue," whose purity of motive disarms suspicion, and whose spotless reputation
deprives malice of his sting-surely the possession of such a treasure must confer unclouded felicity.
On one of those days which our nation appropriates to the public worship of the Deity, I had attended Lucinda in the performance of its sacred duties. While the awful lessons of inspiration fell with solemn energy from her lips, her countenance beamed with the graces of piety, and her whole manner exhibited the fervour of devotion. I returned home with a glow of feeling and an elevation of soul, which I had never before experieuced; and from that moment Lucinda was destined to be the wife of Vivaldo.
On opening my escrutoir to record the meditations of the day, the first object that presented itself to my notice was the Mirror, which I had neglected, and almost forgotten, in the multiplicity of my late engagements. The sight of my faithful monitor recalled to my remembrance the Bramin of Orissa; and prompted by a feeling which I could neither account for nor resist, I touched the silver spring. It is scarcely necessary to mention the name then prevalent in my thoughts. Lucinda appeared before me in her private study, seated at a table, containing several books and pamphlets. Her attention was entirely engrossed by a small volume which appeared to excite no common degree of interest.
Excellent Lucinda, thought I, yon are doubtless concluding the solemnities of the day, by the study of those sacred writings which you so much revere. How elevated is your character, how noble are your objects, how useful your life! On drawing the Mirror more nearly to the eye, how great was my astonishment at perceiving the subject of Lucinda's evening study to be "Amelia!" Upon the table I also observed Macbeth, the School for Scandal, a volume of Rousseau's Confessions, the Novice of St. Dominick, and Guy Mannering.
Overpowered by a discovery so totally unexpected, I fell into a profound meditation upon the strange incongruities of the human character, and an hour elapsed ere I regained sufficient composure of mind to press the golden spring of the tablet, in search of the secret I now became not a little anxious to know.
The ruling tyrant of Lucinda's soul was an ardent love of human esteem. This was the master-spring of all her movements, the prime motive of all her exertions. On this altar she sacrificed the pleasures of the world; to this object she devoted days of labour and nights of care. - Having been early introduced into the society of the pious and the learned, she became anxious to gain their approbation by a life of activity, self-denial, and devotion.
Lucinda was not so much an hypocrite, as a self-deceiver. She was not without some sentiments of religion; but her views were indistinct, and her principles unsteady. The overwhelming influence of one powerful passion clouded her understanding; and her innumerable avocations left her no leisure to analyse her motives or examine her heart. A single expression of gratitude or tribute of respect from the meanest creature of her bounty afforded an ample compensation for all her services and all her privations.
"Praise from the rivell❜d lips of toothless bald
The second passion of Lucinda was an immoderate fondness for works of fancy-a taste which she had imbibed from her former governess, who was enthusiastically devoted to the reading of novels and romances. As this practice was disallowed by her pious friends, she repaid herself for the endurance of restraint by the secret indulgence of her favourite relaxation; and her retired hours were constantly given to Fielding and to Smollet— to Richardson and to Burney. Such was Lucinda; and Lucinda soon ceased to predominate in the mind of Vivaldo.
The next lady to whom I had the privilege of an introduction, was Camilla-the-gay, the lively, the beautiful Camilla; at whose approach every eye sparkled with delight, and every heart bounded with rapture. She was the only child of an opulent merchant-the darling of his affections and the pride of his house. To the advantages of person, she added a highly cultivated mind, and every accomplishment which wealth could command, or art could supply. Her deportment was gracious without familiarity; her manners elegant without affectation; while her exuberance of fancy and readiness of wit rendered her an object of universal attraction. The statesman did not disdain to attend her morning hours; the philosopher thought himself honoured by her smiles; rank and fashion courted her regard; and no circle was complete without the presence of Camilla. I had the fortune to render myself agreeable to this fascinating_woman, and was sometimes favoured with admission to her parties. Like others I was charmed with the powers of her conversation, and flattered by the expressions of her regard; but I had now become too cautious to determine upon character, until I had appealed to the decision of my secret counsellor.
On consulting it one evening for this purpose, I found Camilla just returned from the opera. She was sitting at a small reading-desk in her closet, deeply engaged in the perusal of a ponderous volume which was spread before her. Curious to know what book could thus closely rivet her attention at so late an hour, after the excitements of pleasure and the fatigues of the day, loverlooked the page and to my infinite surprize found the sprightly, the elegant, the fashionable Camilla, was reading her Family Bible! Utterly at a loss to account for this inconsistency, I had recourse to my tablet, which never failed to exhibit the unerring characters of truth.
Camilla had lately become acquainted with a gentleman of extensive learning and eminent piety, who in several conversations had taken the liberty to introduce some subjects of solemn interest and infinite importance. He had frequently enlarged upon the nature of man-his wonderful faculties-his high destination. He had largely discoursed upon the immorta
lity of the soul and upon a future state. He had proved to her from reason and from revelation, that the present life was only the commencement of an eternal existence, and less than an unit in the vast calculation of our being. He had pointed out the beautiful simplicity of the sacred volume; the grandeur of its objects; the sublimity of its views; and the strength of its evidences. The attention of Camilla was at length roused; her curiosity was excited; her conscience was alarmed; and at the early age of twenty-five, while her presence gladdened every circle, and her wit and vivacity banished sorrow from every breast, Camilla was herself a prey to secret despondency. A still small voice had begun to whisper in her ear, that the road to earthly pleasure was not the path to heavenly happiness. The enchantments of the world were dissolving; its enjoyments palled upon her senses; and the ceaseless round of dissipation produced satiety and disgust. She began to suspect that nobler pursuits and higher objeets demanded the exercise of her powers. An ardent passion for truth now prompted its pursuit, and her midnight hours were cons crated to the Scriptures. Success crowned her labours; conviction followed her studies. She perceived the uselessness and vanity of a life of pleasure; her heart felt and her judgement acknowledged, the beauty, the excellence, the importance of religion; and she wished-most fervently wished-that she could be religious.
But Camilla wanted firmness to listen to the voice of her conscience, and to act upon the convictions of her own mind, Her motives were pure, but her resolutions were frail; her principles were right, but her courage was feeble. She shrunk from the contempt of the world, and dreaded the laugh of fools. She still joined the crowd in chace of a phantom that constantly eluded her grasp, and madly pursued the voyage of destruction, although she saw the vessel dancing on a whirlpool, and surrounded by rocks.
I closed the Mirror, oppressed with the most melancholy reflections on human infirmity; and retired to my chamber with the unalterable determination, that Camilla should never be the wife of Vivaldo.
My further speculations must be reserved for a future paper.
London, Nov. 15th, 1817.
OBSERVATIONS UPON PRIDE AND VANITY.
To the Editors of the Northern Star.
THERE are certain affections of the mind, whose characteristics are so blended, and which bear to each other so close a resemblance, as almost to common observers to lose their individuality. But though the shades of distinction are fine and delicate, yet in the eye of a diligent enquirer after truth there exists a radical difference, however nearly allied the affections
may be. If you think the following observations, calculated to elucidate this subject, worthy a page in your Miscellany, they are quite at your
Pride and Vanity, possessing some features in common, and others in particular so very similar, are frequently mistaken for each other, or in the minds of some persons are considered as but one thing; there is, however, an essential difference, between the two, therefore their individuality should not be lost in the shades of analogy, nor should their connection be destroyed by their difference. Pride is an excessive appreciation of possessed good, or an exultation in fancied excellence, its objects are as diversified as the shades of human character and the variety of human situation, and depend upon the adaptation of adventitious circumstance to inherent capacities, acquired habits, or induced feeling. The man who exults in the profound results of his philosophical researches, is rarely purseproud; he who glories in his martial prowess, will seldom be elated by the consciousness of the possession of literary excellence; he who delights himself in his personal attractions, scarcely ever exults in mental worth; he who fondly invests himself with the honours of riches, and prides himself in security from the pangs of penury and the foot of scorn, is seldom delighted with the comtemplation of the dignity of human nature; the philosopher knows that a fool may be rich, he will not therefore be proud of riches; the soldier finds not his arm strengthened by the student's vigils, nor his courage animated by polemic disquisitions, these therefore are not the objects of his pride; the soul-less shadow of a man, whose worth is in his fair proportions, has seen the pallid hue which generally accompanies the excellency of mind acquired or enhanced by sedentary pursuits, he contemps therefore that which is not seen and is eternal, rather than impair that which is seen and is temporal; the miser despises from the in most recesses of his soul the dignity of human nature, because it is quite incompatible with the love of riches. Genuine humility will never preclude the consciousness of the possession of worth; it merely secures a right appreciation of excellence: when the mind, entering into itself, contemplates the high powers and vast capabilities with which it is invested, when it considers its incomparable superiority over the whole of material existence, when in itself it perceives an emanation of Deity, it cannot but have a sublime species of feeling; it is sensible of its true nobility, and is conscious of its importance in the scale of being. Much is it to be regretted that the English language supplies no term more appropriate to this sublime sentiment than Pride. Feeling the impropriety of the term which the paucity of language imposes upon us, we are obliged to add some epithet to distinguish this noble affection of mind, from that which partakes of moral turpitude: but when the consciousness of the dignity of human nature becomes so predominant as to preclude the recollection of the depravity of the human heart, and the guilt of human conduct, it degenerates into what is properly called pride. Vanity is a term appropriated in a great variety of ways; in some senses it bears not the slightest analogy to pride, but in one the resemblance is so strong that it is often