Obrázky stránek


Increase of pow'r begets increase of wealth :
Wealth, luxury; and luxury, excess :
That seizes first the opulent, descends
To the next rank contagious, and in time
Taints downward all the graduat:d scale
Of order, from the chariot to the plough.


PI ATO, speaking of immorality, observes, that the moral intemperature of cities, and the corruption of manners, originate in the bad example of others to youth; and when we reflect upon the powerful influence of the great, as they are termed, we must be convinced that the public mind will ever be strongly biassed by their conduct.

The dissipation which not only prevails in the fashionable world, but has spread through all ranks, is the creature of female extravagance; yes, many

of Our ladies of rank are at once the arbitresses of fashion, and the dissen inators of folly, profusion, and licentiousness! Anemulation to ontvie each other inspires the great

Private theatres resound with che affecting sonnets of wanton love. By an imitation of the unblushing matrons of fashion, the blooming virgin soon assumes a sufficient degree of confidence to participitate their orgies : it is so vulgar to be reserved, or to have the smallest respect for modesty or religion! And (), how charming and spirited to whirl through the convolutions of a reel, as recommended by the dancing duchess ! how noble to excel in eques

and the gay.

trian exercises, like Lady L-, our modern Diana !-and how decorous and characteristic of maiden reserve to make the vaulted roofs of pleasure resound with the ear-piercing music of the cymbal, so often practised and recommended by the modest Mrs. B!

A polite writer observes, that "the utmost of a woman's character is contained in domestic life; she is blameable or praise-worthy, according as her carriage affects the house of her father or her husband. All she has to do in this world is contained within the duties of a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a mother :- all these may be performed, though a lady should not be the very first woman at an opera or an assembly." These precepts, however, just, are inimical to the pursuits and sentiments of our modern females. The woman of fashion thinks it more spirited to overleap the boundaries of morality; she boldly participates in the varied amusements of the gaming-table, the masquerade, and all the gratifications of sense. What signifies the loss of character, health, and beauty ? _" Fame, wealth, and honour, what are you to pleasure!Nobly independent in principle, with passions stimulated by luxury, the illustrious fair-one emulates the voluptuousness of the most luxurious dames of anti. quity.

It must be very mortifying, however, for persons of quality to see themselves outdone by the apes of society. For instance, a certain lady, long celebrated for her introduction of reels into the circle of fashion, and who has successfully endeavoured to render the heads of young ladies giddy, finds that, after all her laudable exertions, she is excelled in

agility and grace by an opera dancer !-" IH weaveda ambition, how much art thou shrunk?It must be pitiable to reflect, that this desire of the great, to excel in frivolous accomplishments, has been but too often unsuccessful. That polished and humane Roman emperor, Nero, entered into a competition with buffoons and fidlers; but he was obliged to relinquish the pursuit, from a consciousness of his inferiority of talents: and probably, our young ladies, who now practise wanton dances and lessons on tambourines and cymbals, will eventually leave the cultivation of those polite arts to actresses.

But while private theatres and fêtes are sanctioned by the presence of the most dignified characters, it is vain to hope for a reformation of fashionable manners. This absurd indulgence of vanity seems to authorize and enforce the necessity of young ladies being educated like actresses ; nay, at the fete of a person of quality, a number of our young nobility of both sexes actually performed a farce for the entertainment of the company!

Among other proofs of self-importance, the confident air with which high-bred ladies contemplate the other sex in their morning rambles, is a sufficient indication of their modesty. This apparent superiority of demeanour may be the companion of purity. of heart, but few men would wish to see their wives and daughters sauntering in the public walks, half dressed, and gazing at every man that passed. The observant eye can easily discern affectation in their deportment, and the studied adjustment of their light flowing robes. These capricious fair ones are so vain that their eyes claim the homage of every man they meet, and they seem dissatisfied if we pass them without gratifying their self-love by appaxchin admiration.

Many of our grey-haired matrons are decorated with such a profusion of ornaments, that they attract the eye; as the foliage of the trees in Autumn exhibit a more gaudy variety of tints than even the fresh beauties of Spring.

But it is at the theatres that the modish fair display their charms to most advantage; there they imbibe refined sentiments, and sympathise with such virtuous characters as the adulteresses and blustering heroes of Kotzebue, to the melioration of their morals Indeed, the principal advantage to be derived from modern dramas is that soothing relaxation they afford to the mind. When the fine lady returns home fatigued after a succession of important morning visits, and the exhaustion of her vivid spirits, in the useful employment of tumbling over a multitude of silks, laces, and muslins, the selection of china, or cheapening of perfumery, how gratifying must be the amusement of the theatre! There the unwel. come visitor, Reflection, will not intrude; but, surrounded by admirers, the fair idol may indulge her fancy in reveries of vanity. The concatenation of her sublime ideas will seldom be broken, either by the witticisms of her attendant beaux, or the drivellings of licentiousness and dulness, so often said of sung on the stage.

If our ladies prefer the fête or the masquerade, gaiety attends their steps; and the power of golt throws open every door on their approach. At these amusements they pass the hours in a feverish medium between pleasure and pain, and return home in splendid vehicles, fatigued and unhappy. Delirious dreams fill up the measure of their væ

nity; and every successive day presents an insipid round of similar gratifications. Is this frantic inisapplication of health, fortune, and time, agreeable to the dictates of reason, or the feelings of a conscious heart? No: but who can summon fortitude enough to break the magic chain of fashion, br endure the frantic revilings of a dissipated throng, involved in the labyrinth of extravagance.

It must be mortifying to our modern arbitresses of taste to reflect, that they have not even the merit of originality in their amusements, as every species of excess in dress and intrigue have been formerly practised by Cleopatra, and other celebrated nymphs of antiquity. There remains only one unexplored path, by which our ladies may arrive at a degree of refinement which will surpass the elegance

Listen, ye lovely directors of our amusements-listen to the voice of prudence ; let your dress, deportment, and conversation, be regulated by the secret dictates of your natural delicacy, and no longer sacrifice your noblest feelings to the slavish foppery of fashion; or rather, by your example, render it fashionable to be virtuous. Recal your misguided country women to the path of decorum,

from which so many of them bave widely strayed :-now, alas! you wander like benighted travellers amid the quagmires of pleasure, allured by the ignis fatuus of dissipation, and the next step may overwhelm you in the bottomless pit of infamy :--expend the treasure which you now lavish on fêtes and other amusements, in the institution of public seminaries for the children of the indigent, and asylums for the protection of female innocence.

of former ages.

« PředchozíPokračovat »