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mily; and, as he could not venture to incur the dislike of the lovely Ellen, or her venerable grand-father who had saved his life, he determined on concealment.
(To be continued in our next.)
ON THE SOCIAL AFFECTIONS.
LIFE would be altogether miserable, were it not for the ex, ercise of the social affections. Our desires concentrated within the narrow limits of self-gratification, and our feelings unexcited by any other object than self esteem, we should never enjoy the sweet interchange of mutual attachment, nor experience the pleasure of communicating delight. We should wander likę hermits through a dreary world, our wants unrelieved by friendship, and our sorrows unmitigated by sympathy. No kind hand would shield us from error or misfortune, no disinterested coun: sel would direct us to wisdom and prosperity. If not direct opposers of each other's happiness, we would, at least, take no pains to promote it, and indifference is always a foundation for hostility. Regardless of esteem, we should lose a powerful inducement to be virtuous, and careless of admiration, we would sink into sloth and obscurity. Thus the affairs of life would stagnate ; industry and enterprise would be at an end; and all the comforts they produce would be lost to the world.
On the other hand, from the overflowing source of the social affections, are derived the most exquisite enjoyments of life; the endearments of lovers, the confidence of friends, the charities of philanthropy and patriotism, the luxury of kindness, and the blessings of gratitude. These are all the offspring of those generous and virtuous feelings that prompt us to extend our views, anxieties, and exertions beyond the contracted sphere of our personal concerns.
Our attachment to those we love adds energy to our undertakings, and perseverance to our activity. How much does the consciousness that they will participate in our prosperity, stimulate us to exertion; and how much is our gratification on experiencing good fortune, increased by the consideration, that they too are rendered happy! If it be in the power of self-love to compel us to exertion, by rousing our first and most natural impulse, which is to defend ourselves from danger, by warding off the attacks of either personal censure, poverty, or pain, it is the province of social affection to render our efforts agreeable, and to reward them by adding enjoyment to success. The one acts only by the stern compulsion of necessity, and cannot yield the same delight as the other, which acts by the alluring influence of the pleasure it bestows, or is expected to bestow. Hence the impulse of self-love, strong as it is, could never, without the aid of the nobler, more praise-worthy and endearing principle of social feeling, inspire mankind with that readiness of enterprise, and ardour of pursuit, so necessary to carry on the affairs of life with advantage or satisfaction.
How amiable and delightful are those sympathetic feelings which enable us to enter into the griefs and joys of others, which induce us to pour our hearts and affections into their bosons, and secure to us in return, their endearing confidence! I have long been of opinion, that of all the pleasures which heaven has been pleased to bestow upon humanity, in order to atone for misfortune, or to render existence more tolerable, there are none so pure, so exquisite, and so capable of recompensing us for whatever evils we may suffer, as those experienced hy fond and virtuous lovers, when, in the retired enjoyment of each other's society, they pour forth the tale of mutual attachment, and concentrate all their felicity in the consciousness of rendering each other happy.
Burns, the most natural of all poets, exclaims :
O happy love, where love like this is found,
Cotter's Saturday Night.
If in the marriage state the delight arising from affection to the partner of our fate is not so very intense as the romantic raptures of lovers, it is more tranquil, more durable, and. perhaps, more rational. Without the fervour of a heated imagination to raise it beyond nature, it is really felt, and being once felt, is never afterwards likely to disappoint calculation. In this state also, the bonds of airection are generally drawn closer, and rendered stronger by the possession of a mutual offspring. The conjugal and parental affections being thus united, the tie of attachment becomes doubly binding. Hence when objects, which have such a firm hold upon our affections, are depending upon us for protection and support, our stimulus to exertion becomes too powerful to be resisted, our industry, our self-esteem and satisfaction are increased, and we are rendered more useful both to ourselves and to society.
It may with truth be asserted of the generality of mankind, that, if they had no sustenance but their own to provide, no cause but their own to assert, they would sink into indolence, and become almost indifferent to consequences. But the pleasing duty of providing for a family or a friend, or the generous gratification of maintaining the cause of virtue and innocence, rouses us to an exertion of both mind and body of wbich we might otherwise conceive ourselves incapable; at least, which our natural indolence would often render burthensome and disagreeable.
Theodore is, at this day, a man of considerable property and of estimable character; though at an early period of life, by indulging himself in every species of vice and licentiousness, he had almost ruined his fortune and reputation. Indeed, so regardless was he of consequences, that the first impulse was sufficient to drive him to the adoption of any measure however mischievous, or however absurd. Becoming suddenly enamoured of a very handsome and respectable young lady, without any fortune, and who was as unexperienced, as he was careless of the world, he hastily prevailed on her lo marry him. With his usual vivacity and thoughtlessness, he extended the expensive pleasures of the honey-moon through the whole of the first year; and without informing his wife of his embarrasments, he even Voc. J.--No. 1.
exceeded her wishes in purchasing, visiting, and showing off in the most brilliant style of fashion. Fortunately, at the end of that year, she bore him a son, which was the first thing that brought him to a sense of prudence and propriety. Often have I heard him say, “ the moment I saw my boy, I became as it were a new man. Parental affection prompted me to inquire into the true state of my affairs, and to make my wife acquainted with them. Though in a state of dreadful derangement, they were not absolutely irretrievable. We agreed immediately to retrench our expenses, and settled upon a plan of economical management, to which we have ever since strictly adhered, and from which I have derived more real enjoyment, than from all the fascinating scenes of expensive pleasures, in which I had so long and so ruinously indulged. Often do I praise heaven for my fortunate escape from the tempting snares of youth, which, at one time, I found myself so unable to resist; and often do I reflect with grateful satisfaction, that the birth of my son was destined to save me from destruction !"
Of Wieland, and other novels, by Charles Brockden Brown, of
The fate of these novels has been very peculiar. They have been much praised by the critics, but neglected by the public. They manifest great powers of thinking and a masterly style of writing. Men of learning and of reflection have discovered this, and have proclaimed it; but, to all they have said, the public have remained indifferent. . This has been ascribed to the apathy of Americans in respect to domestic literature. It has been said, that had these works made their first appearance in Great Britain, they would have been hailed with admiration, and would have elevated their author to fortune, and an enviable height of literary fame.
We cannot, to its full extent, embrace this opinion. Had their original publication been in England, they would, no doubt, like all other works of fancy, have succeeded better; but, of how many other productions, published in this country, might not the same thing be said ? Great Britain contains more readers, because it contains more people, among whom there are more wealth and idleness, and as a natural consequence, more taste for literary indulgence. But those who have such taste, in this country, possess it much of the same kind, and in the same degree as it is possessed in Europe; and those who have leisure and means are generally as desirous of indulging it. The only difference is in their numbers; but, to authors, this difference is all important, for it is immense.
But even in England much talent has been expended in the production of works that have not commanded success, if by success be meant the favour of the people. In works of imagination in particular, where amusement rather than instruction is sought for, profundity of thought, and aptitude for correct moralization, are not so likely to gain readers, as vivacity of narration, variety and rapidity of incident, and accuracy and force of drawing and discriminating characters.
The writer of the novels before us, possessed the former qualifications in perfection. Of the latter, he has, in these works, afforded us but little indication. His inventive powers are great, and the events he narrates surprising; but they are too often miraculous, and that too without any satisfactory explanation. This is a great fault; but on account of the extraordinary depth of thinking that pervades the works, the reader might forgive it, if the general air of the characters and transactions were not too foreign from those of real life; if the perpetual elevation, and uniform dignity of the language did not render it monotonous and tiresome; and, above all, if the profound moralizing strain of the Godwin school, in which none ever excelled this writer, did not intrude too often, and continue too long, between the incidents of the story.
There is a necessary gravity in abstract reasoning, which, under whatever form it may appear, renders it to the majority of readers, disagreeable. To the readers of novels it is particularly so. Such works are generally opened with a view to ena' tertainment. Instruction is too frequently but a secondary object.