תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

thodox clergyman, as the eldest daughter of his old guardian. His gardener informs him that she is still single, and that she ever was universally beloved for her affability, condescension, benevolence, and piety. · But she is plain in face,' said Cælebs; and so he went to his study, wrote a sermon, and thought no more of her till the next day. Then again he heard that she was ' sensi. ble, pious, tender;' and resolved that he would renew his acquaintance with her. The account of the courtship our prudent bachelor himself shall give.

“Now, concluded I, as I drove swiftly over the hundred miles which separated us from each other, if Providence designs to favour my embassy, I shall probably meet with flattering occurrences. This sentiment accorded well with a certain romantic enthusiasm which still heated my imagination on some occasions. Arrived at the end of my journey, I stayed the night at the inn, to adjust my looks and disordered attire,

before I ventured to proceed to the habitation of Mrs. W. At ... length, the moment drew on, when I came in sight of the

orchard, the garden-wall, the neat pailings, the iron gate. I rang the bell with an agitation I imparted to the unconscious wire, and the peal so loud, attracted to the parlour-window the lady who occasioned the agitation.

Fortunate circumstance, thought I, to catch an immediate glimpse of the desired object, as I paced with a light step the avenue to the house-door. Twenty years had effected less alteration in Miss W.'s person than my own, and for this simple reason, she had no blooming complexion, no elegant shape to lose. She appeared still Miss W. with a plain face and indifferent figure, not in the smallest degree injured by time or accident. I bowed, smiled, and presented her my hand, which she made no scruple to accept, while she courteously obseryed— I have not the pleasure of knowing you, Sir.' • Alas! returned I, that is my own fault, no wonder you have forgotten your old correspondent Cælebs.' Celebs,' repeated she, gazing in my face, ' yes, indeed, I now see you are, and I am rejoiced to meet you once again: ah! you little think how much we have all lamented your neglect.' • I am now come to sue for your forgiveness,' returned I, ingratitude has marked my conduct to all, but especially to yourself, who once honoured me with your correspondence. Yes, yes,' replied my fair friend, • I recollect who dropped it first; but we don't look for gallantry in scholars, and we are not now met to vent reproach, you have my hearty pardon, and I will answer for that of my mother and sisters. I then enquired after each, and was

informed the former was gone on a visit to one of her daughters, a few miles distant, which implied that a tete-a-tete with Miss W. was my fortunate designation. - You have, said she, • I presume, heard of the marriages in our family; and I suppose, though the information has not reached us, I may congratulate you also on having bid farewel to the single state.' 'Not so, I rejoined, 'I am still in pursuit of matrimonial happiness. As I spoke this sentence, I looked full in the face of my companion, dreading that chilling glance which bachelors are doomed to receive from all their spinster friends, of equal age, rank, and fortune.

“ Contrary to my expectation, my emphatic sentence I am still only in pursuit of matrimonial happiness,' excited no chilling glance from the lady. She expressed surprise and curiosity on the subject, as knowing of my engagement to my young cousin, and I briefly related to her the particulars respecting her, which have engaged the attention of my readers. This narrative, with the occasional remarks it necessarily drew from my fair auditor, engrossed a considerable length of time; and a servant entered with dinner preparations, before I had considered the reasonable space for a morning visit was expired. I was looking round in quest of my hat and gloves, when my friend exclaimed, “ You do not suppose I shall suffer you to leave me. Here you must stay till my mother's return next week, and as much longer as she can prevail upon you so to do.

“Fortunate Celebs, whispered I to myself, every good genius is hovering round thee. I felt my cheek glow with satisfaction as I replied. "'Tis impossible I can wish to depart, while you wish me to stay.' • Now you speak as you ought,' replied the lady, "you will excuse me for a few minutes, for

you see I am in my morning habit.' Before I could make the suitable observation, that no other dress was necessary to make the wearer charming, &c. &c. she was gone, and left me about half an hour to editate on her charms. Now, I was still con. strained to acknowledge, that Miss W's. charms were confined to mind; yet at this moment she seemed irresistible, and my fair cousin, in all the blaze of personal beauty, never appeared a more desirable partner for life. Possibly this effect might be in part occasioned by the idea of such an event resting on my imagination; certainly, however, the lady had, during the last three hours, made many of the most sensible and pious observations. She had enlarged on the necessity of congenial tastes and dispositions in married life; had even touched on the peculiar duties of a minister's wife; and spoken of the happiness enjoyed by her sisters in the married state, with a warmth of feeling which left little doubt on my mind of her willingness to follow their examples.

" While I thus sat musing on the past conversation, my fair friend re-entered. The character of her dress was changed, but not its neatness; here it was impossible for her evening costume to excel her morning. She was dressed with taste: perhaps some may wish to peruse the exalted delineation of a female dressed with taste, and I conceive the delineation may be comprised in a few particulars. I consider a lady is dressed with taste, when she wears, in the first place, a dress not more costly than her situation in life may reasonably admit; when she suits her dress to her age and person; when she avoids the extreme of any fashion, and especially of any universally unbecoming, or peculiarly so to herself; when she loves simplicity better than finery, and sacrifices the most favourite fashion, if it encroaches on the boundaries of modesty. In the adoption of these rules, the lady in question was eminently distinguished; and she proved at this moment the advantage accruing to an indifferent person, from a judicious choice in the articles of dress: without the semblance of art, and certainly without its reality, she had contrived greatly to improve her appearance; and as I looked upon her, I thought within myself, my wife shall always dress for dinner.

“ We dined—the servant withdrew, leaving on the table a small dessert, and two decanters of wine. My companion stirred up the dying embers in her grate, while I poured out à glass, and proposed the health of her good mother and sisters. We engaged again in familiar conversation; every sentence my fair friend pronounced, seemed to confirm the high predilection I entertained for her. I was resolved not to offend by a too abrupt avowal of my intention in thus renewing the acquaintance; yet would I venture a hint for the purpose of forming some accurate judgment on the result of an open declaration. I drew my chair a little nearer, and with a smile, as I intended, of peculiar expression, I observed, Miss W. has descanted largely on her sister's happiness in the married state, but she has left me to wonder at her own reluctance to follow their examples. I was proceeding, when suddenly the door opened, and there entered not an impertinent visiter male or female; not a watchful duenna in the form of a maiden aunt; not a favoured lover to dispute my right to question the fair ladybut a servant girl, bearing in her arms a beautiful infant apparently about ten months old, who, with extended arms, sprang to the embrace of my fair friend, and hid its face on her bosom to avoid the sight of my strange countenance. The servant instantly quitted the room. Your wonder, Cælebs, will now cease,' observed the supposed Miss W. I thought how

.

agreeably I should surprise you after dinner, and therefore would not say a word about my dear darling here, and his dear father. Yes, indeed, I was prevailed upon to follow my sister's example nearly two years since, and I do assure you, I have as yet seen no reason to repent

of
my

conduct.” • Cælebs deceived' is an excellent book; and should find a place beside the novels of John Bunyan, · Cælebs in search of a wife,' Hill's Village Dialogues, and the Vicar of Wakefield. Of the present edition we have to say, that many little words are omitted, many erroneously spelt, and the whole work of the printer is miserably executed. So fine a gem should not be so roughly set.

ARTICLE. VI.-Ethical Questions; or Speculations on the

principal subjects of controversy in Moral Philosophy. By T. Cogan, M. D. Author of a Philosophical Treatise on the Passions, &c. London, 1817. p. 439. 8vo.

The volume of which we have just copied the title, has many things to recommend it. It is one of the latest publications on the subject of the philosophy of the hu. man mind; it is written in a pure style; the author is generally very happy in making distinctions; a more philosophical precision in language has been observed by him than we find in any other writer on the same science; and the whole is an elegant specimen of literary contro. versy. The topics of which he treats are all of them theological in their connexions; but Cogan's theology we apprehend to be deistical. He is known, however, as the author of a Philosophical Treatise on the Passions;"> and of “ Ethical Disquisitions;" so that general praise, or censure would be useless. We shall, therefore, briefly examine his last work, which consists of seven essays, or, as he is pleased to call them, “ Speculations,” on the following questions:

“ I. What are the sources of rational conviction? and what are the characteristic differences of each?-II. Is benevolence a principle distinct from self-love, or a modification of it?-III.

Is human nature endowed with a moral sense, to perceive moral principles, in a manner analogous to the organs of sense, in the perception of external objects:-IV. Are the actions and volitions of men necessary, in given circumstances? or, circumstances being the same, could a contrary volition be formed, or a contrary conduct be adopted?-V. Is human nature endowed with a common sense, destined to be the criterion of truth; and more infallible, in any case, respecting its decisions, than the deductions of reason!--VI. Are the sceptical opinions advanced by Mr. Hume, in his enquiry into the human understanding, founded on the legitimate use, or the abuse of reason? or is it necessary to renounce our reason, in order to reject them?VII. Whence are our ideas of moral obligation derived; and what is the final cause of the obligation?” p. 7.

One great object of Mr. Cogan seems to be to expose the errors into which he thinks Dr. Beattie fell in attempt. ing to refute the opinions of Mr. Hume; while he would equally oppose the sceptic, but in a more argumentative way. Beattie's common sense, and moral sense have, in his opinion, attempted to usurp the place of reason and to disparage her; and therefore he would banish both, with Hume's impressions to a philosophical purgatory, in which they may abide until they are chastised into plain reasonings. For our part, we think Mr. Cogan has become as much enamoured of Reason as the other named philosophers were of their respective favourites: so that with Hume, impression is every thing; with Beattie, common sense; and with Cogan, reasoning. Hence he considers in the first speculation “the sources of rational conviction,” by which he intends the same that Locke, and others do by the sources of knowledge. Locke taught, that all our knowledge is derived from sensation and reflection. Reid has satisfactorily evinced the sources of our knowledge to be much more numerous than his predecessors supposed them; but he did not attempt to persuade us that he had enumerated them all. Cogan is quite confident that “ when the mind is impressed with a conviction of any truth, the conviction is ascribed to certain proofs or evidences of its reality; and these may be of various kinds, according to the nature of the subject, or the means of information.” “ The following arrangement appears" to him “to comprehend every species of evi

« הקודםהמשך »