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civility, and the greatness of soul that is conspicuous in benevolence without immediate obliga. tions; could you recommend to people's practice the saying of the gentleman quoted in one of your speculations, "That he thought it incumbent. upon him to make the inclinations of a woman of merit go along with her duty;" could you, I say, persuade these men of the beauty and reasonableness of this sort of behaviour, I have so much charity, for some of them at least, to believe you would convince them of a thing they are only ashamed to allow. Besides, you would recommend that state in its truest, and consequently its most agreeable colours; and the gentlemen, who have for any time been such professed enemies to it, when occasion should serve, would return you their thanks for assisting their interest in prevailing over their prejudices. Marriage in general would by this means be a more easy and comfortable condition; the husband would be no where so well satisfied as in his own parlour, nor the wife so pleasant as in the company of her husband. A desire of being agreeable in the lover would be increased in the husband, and the mistress be more amiable by becoming the wife. Besides all which, I am apt to believe we should find the race of men grow wiser as their progeni tors grew kinder, and the affection of their parents would be conspicuous in the wisdom of their children; in short, men would in general be much better humoured than they are, did they not so frequently exercise the worst turns of their tem per where they ought to exert the best.'
"I AM a woman who left the admiration of this whole town to throw myself(for love of wealth)
into the arms of a fool. When I married him, I could have had any one of several men of sense who languished for me; but my case is just. I believed my superior understanding would form him into a tractable creature. But alas! my spouse has cunning and suspicion, the inseparable companions of little minds; and every attempt I make to divert, by putting on an agreeable air, a sudden cheerfulness, or kind behaviour, he looks upon as the first act towards an insurrection against his undeserved dominion over me. Let every one who is still to choose, and hopes to govern a fool, remember
St. Martin's, Nov. 25.
THIS is to complain of an evil practice which I think very well deserves a redress, though you have not as yet taken any notice of it: if you mention it in your paper, it may perhaps have a very good effect. What I mean is, the disturbance some people give to others at church, by their repetition of the prayers after the minister, and that not only in the prayers, but also in the absolution; and the commandments fare no better, which are in a particular manner the priest's office: this I have known done in so audible a manner, that sometimes their voices have been as loud as his. As little as you would think it, this is frequently done by people seemingly devout. This irreligious inadvertency is a thing extremely offensive: but I do not recommend it as a thing I give you liberty to ridicule, but hope it may be amended by the bare mention.
Your very humble servant,
They that are dim of sight see truth by halves.
Ir is very reasonable to believe, that part of the pleasure which happy minds shall enjoy in a future state, will arise from an enlarged contemplation of the Divine Wisdom in the government of the world, and a discovering of the secret and amazing steps of Providence, from the beginning to the end of time. Nothing seems to be an entertainment more adapted to the nature of man, if we consider that curiosity is one of the strongest and most lasting appetites implanted in us, and that admiration is one of our most pleasing passions; and what a perpetual succession of enjoyments will be afforded to both these, in a scene so large and various as shall then be laid open to our view in the society of superior spirits, who perhaps will join with us in so delightful a prospect!
It is not impossible, on the contrary, that part of the punishment of such as are excluded from bliss, may consist not only in their being denied this privilege, but in having their appetites at the same time vastly increased without any satisfaction afforded to them. In these, the vain pursuit of knowledge shall, perhaps, add to their infelicity, and bewilder them into labyrinths of error, darkness, distraction, and uncertainty of every thing but their own evil state. Milton has thus represented the fallen angels reasoning together in a kind of respite from their torments, and
creating to themselves a new disquiet amidst their very amusements; he could not properly have described the sport of condemned spirits, without that cast of horror and melancholy he has so judiciously mingled with them:
Others apart sat on a hill retir'd,
In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high
In our present condition, which is a middle state, our minds are as it were chequered with truth and falsehood: and as our faculties are narrow and our views imperfect, it is impossible but our curiosity must meet with many repulses. The business of mankind in this life being rather to act than to know, their portion of knowledge is dealt to them accordingly.
From hence it is, that the reason of the inqui sitive has so long been exercised with difficulties, in accounting for the promiscuous distribution of good and evil to the virtuous and the wicked in this world. From hence come all those pathetic complaints of so many tragical events which happen to the wise and the good; and of such sur prising prosperity, which is often the lott of the guilty and the foolish; that reason is sometimes puzzled, and at a loss to pronounce upon so mysterious a dispensation.
Plato expresses his abhorrence of some fables of the poets, which seem to reflect on the gods as the authors of injustice, and lays it down as a principle, that whatever is permitted to befal a just man, whether poverty, sickness, or any of those things which seem to be evils, shall either
* Parad. Lost, b. ii. v. 557.
Spect. in folio; for reward, &c?
in life or death conduce to his good. My reader will observe how agreeable this maxim is to what we find delivered by a greater authority. Seneca has written a discourse purposely on this subject;* in which he takes pains, after the doctrine of the Stoics, to shew that adversity is not in itself an evil; and mentions a noble saying of Demetrius, that nothing would be more unhappy than a man who had never known affliction.' He compares prosperity to the indulgence of a fond mother to a child, which often proves his ruin; but the affection of the Divine Being to that of a wise father, who would have his sons exercised with labour, disappointments, and pain, that they may gather strength and improve their fortitude. On this occasion, the philosopher rises into that celebrated sentiment, that there is not on earth a spectacle more worthy the regard of a Creator intent on his works than a brave man superior to his sufferings; to which he adds, that it must be a pleasure to Jupiter himself to look down from heaven, and see Cato amidst the ruins of his country preserving his integrity.
This thought will appear yet more reasonable, if we consider human life as a state of probation, and adversity as the post of honour in it, assigned often to the best and most select spirits.
But what I would chiefly insist on here is, that we are not at present in a proper situation to judge of the councils by which Providence acts, since but little arrives at our knowledge, and even that little we discern imperfectly; or according to the elegant figure in holy writ, we see but in part, and as in a glass darkly.'t It is
* Vid. Senec. De constantiâ sapientis, sive quod in sapientem non cadit injuria.
† 1 Cor. xiii. 12.