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orphan rise up to heaven long after the thunder of the fight and the clang of arms have ceased, and the bones of sons, brothers, and husbands slain are grown white on the field. Customs like these vouch, with most miraculous organs, for the depravity of the human heart, and these are not the most mournful of those considerations which present themselves to the mind of the thinking man.
Private life is equally fertile in calamitous perversion of reason, and extreme accumulation of misery. On the one hand, we see a large proportion of men sedulously employed in the eduction of their own ruin, pursuing vice in all its varieties, and sacrificing the peace and happiness of the innocent and unoffending to their own brutal gratifications; and on the other, pain, misfortune, and misery, overwhelming alike the good and the bad, the provident and the improvident. But too general a view would distract our attention: let the reader pardon me if I suddenly draw him away from the survey of the crowds of life to a few detached scenes. We will select a single picture at random. The character is common.
Behold that beautiful female, who is rallying a welldressed young man with so much gaiety and humour. Did you ever see so lovely a countenance ? There is an expression of vivacity in her fine dark eye which quite captivates one; and her smile, were it a little less bold, would be bewitching. How gay and careless she seems! One would suppose she had a very light and happy heart. Alas! how appearances deceive! This gaiety is all feigned. It is her business to please, and beneath a fair and painted outside she conceals an unquiet and forlorn breast.
When she was yet very young, an engaging but dissolute young man took ad
vantage of her simplicity, and of the affection with which he had inspired her, to betray her virtue. At first ber infamy cost her many tears; but habit wore away this remorse, leaving only a kind of indistinct regret, and, as she fondly loved her betrayer, she experienced, at times, a mingled pleasure even in her abandoned situation. But this was soon over.
Her lover, on pretence of a journey into the country, left her for ever. She soon afterward heard of his marriage, with an agony of grief which few can adequately conceive, and none describe. The calls of want, however, soon subdued the more distracting ebullitions of anguish. She had no choice left; all the gátés of virtúe were shut upon her, and though she really abhorred the course, she was obliged to betake herself to vice for support. Her next keeper possessed her person without her heart. She has since passed through several hands, and has found, by bitter experience, that the vicious, on whose generosity she is thrown, are devoid of all feeling but that of self-gratification, and that even the wages of prostitution are reluctantly and grudgingly paid. She now looks on all men as sharpers. She smiles but to entangle and destroy; and while she simulates fondness, is intent only on the extorting of that, at best poor pittance, which her necessities loudly demand. Thoughtless as she may seem, she is not without an idea of her forlorn and wretched situation, and she looks only to sudden death, as her refuge, against that time when her charms shall cease to allure the eye of incontinence, when even the lowest haunts of infamy shall be shut against her, and without a friend, or a hope, she must sink under the pressure of want and disease. But we will now shift the scene a little, and select another object. Behold yon poor weary wretch, who, with a child wrapt in her arms, with difficulty drags along the road. The man, with a knapsack, who is walking before her, is her husband, and is marching to join his regiment. He has been spending, at a dramshop in the town they have just left, the supply which the pale and weak appearance of his wife proclaims was necessary for her sustenance. He is now halfdrunk, and is venting the artificial spirits which intoxication excites in the abuse of his weary helpmate behind him. She seems to listen to his reproaches in patient silence. Her face will tell you more than many words, as, with a wan and meaning look, she surveys the little wretch who is asleep on her arms.
The turbulent brutality of the man excites no attention: she is pondering on the future chance of life and the probable lot of her heedless little one:
One other picture, and I have done. The man pacing with a slow step and languid aspect over yon prison court, was once a fine dashing fellow, the admiration of the ladies, and the envy of the men. He is the only representative of a once respectable family, and is brought to this situation by unlimited indulgence at that time when the check is most necessary. He began to figure in genteel life at an early age. His misjudging mother, to whose sole care he was left, thinking no alliance too good for her darling, cheerfully supplied his extravagance, under the idea that it would not last long, and that it would enable him to shine in those cir. cles where she wished him to rise. But he soon found that habits of prodigality, once well gained, are never eradicated. His fortune, though genteel, was not adequate to such habits of expense. His unhappy parent lived to see him make a degrading alliance, and come in danger of a jail, and then died of a broken heart. His affairs soon wound themselves up.
His debts were enormous, and he had nothing to pay them with. He has now been in that prison many years, and since he is excluded from the benefit of an insolvency act, he has made up his mind to the idea of ending his days there. His wife, whose beauty had decoyed him, since she found he could not support her, deserted him for those who could, leaving him without friend or companion, to pace; with measured steps, over the court of a country jail, and endeavour to beguile the lassitude of imprisonment, by thinking on the days that are gone, or counting the squares in his grated window in every possible direction, backwards, forwards, and across, till he sighs to find the sum always the same, and that the more anxiously we strive to beguile the moments in their course, the more sluggishly they travel.
If these are accurate pictures of some of the varieties of human suffering, and if such pictures are common even to triteness, what conclusions must we draw as to the condition of man in general; and what must be the prevailing frame of mind of him who meditates much on these subjects, and who, unbracing the whole tissue of causes and effects, sees Misery invariably the offspring of Vice, and Vice existing in hostility to the intentions and wishes of God? Let the meditative man turn where he will, he finds traces of the depraved state of Nature, and her consequent misery. History presents him with little but murder, treachery, and crimes of every description. Biography only strengthens the view, by concentrating it. The philosophers remind him of the existence of evil, by their lessons how to avoid or endure it; and the very poets themselves afford him pleasure, not unconnected with regret, as, either by con
trast, exemplification, or deduction, they bring the world and its circumstances before his eyes.
That such a one, then, is prone to sadness, who will wonder? If such meditations are beneficial, who will blame them? The discovery of evil naturally leads us to contribute our mite towards the alleviation of the wretchedness it introduces. While we lament vice, we learn to shunitourselves, and to endeavour, if possible, to arrest its progress in those around us; and in the course of these high and lofty speculations, we are insensibly led to think humbly of ourselves, and to lift up our thoughts to Him who is alone the fountain of all perfection and the source of all good.
Boileau L' Art Poetique. EXPERIMENTS in versification have not often been successful. Sir Philip Sidney, with all his genius, great as it undoubtedly was, could not impart grace to his hexameters, or fluency to his sapphics. Spenser's stanza was new, but his verse was familiar to the ear; and though his rhymes were frequent even to satiety, he seems to have avoided the awkwardness of novelty, and the difficulty of unpractised metres. Donne had not music enough to render his broken rhyming couplets sufferable, and neither his wit nor his pointed satire were sufficient to rescue him from that neglect which his uncouth and rugged versification speedily, superinduced.
In our times, Mr. Southey has given grace and melody to some of the Latin and Greek measures, and Mr. Bowles has written rhyming heroics, wherein the