« 上一頁繼續 »
have undergone scarce any alteration since he came to the possession of it ; and his tenants too are nearly the same. The ancient possessors have never been removed from motives of interest, or without some very particular reason; and the few new ones he has chosen to introduce, are, for the most part, persons who have been servants in his family, whose fidelity and attachment he has rewarded by a small farm at a low rent.
I have had many a pleasant conversation, about sunset in a summer evening, with those venerable grey-headed villagers. Their knowledge of countryaffairs, the sagacity of their remarks, and the manner, acquired by a residence in Mr. Umphraville's family, with which they are accustomed to deliver them, bave afforded me much entertainment.
It is delightful to hear them run out in praises of their landlord. They have told me there is not a person in his neighbourhood, who stands in need of his assistance, who has not felt the influence of his generosity; which, they say, endears him to the whole country. Yet, such is the effect of that reserved and particular manner which my friend has contracted, that while his good qualities have procured him great esteem, and the disinterestedness of his disposition, with the opinion entertained of his honour and integrity, has always prevented him from falling into disputes or quarrels with his neighbours, there is scarcely one of them with whom he lives on terms of familiarity.
Mr. Umphraville, in the earlier part of his life, had an attachment to an amiable young lady. Their situation at that time might have made an avowal of his passion equally fatal to both; and, though it was not without a severe struggle, Mr. Umphraville had firmness enough to suppress the declaration of an attachment he was unable to subdue. The lady, some time after, married ; since that period, Mr. Umphraville has never seen her, or been known so much as once to mention her name ; but I am credibly informed, that, by his interest, her eldest son has obtained high preferment in the army. The only favour which Mr. Umphraville ever asked from any great man was for this young gentleman ; but neither the lady herself, nor any of her family, know by whose influence his advancement has been procured.
Though it is possible, that, if Mr. Umphraville had married at an early period of life, his mind, even in a state of retirement, would have retained a polish, and escaped many of those peculiarities it has now contracted ; yet, I own, I am rather inclined to believe his remaining single a fortunate circumstance. Nor have my fair readers any reason to be offended at the remark : great talents, even in a generous and benevolent mind, are sometimes attended with a certain want of pliability, which is ill suited to the cordialities of domestic 'life. A man of such a disposition as Mr. Umphraville has now acquired, might consider the delicacy, the vivacity, and the fine shades of female character, as frivolous, and beneath attention ; or, at least might be unable, for any length of time, to receive pleasure from those indulgencies, which minds of a softer mould may regard as the great and amiable perfection of what Mr. Pope calls
• The last best work of Heaven."; With all those respectable talents which Mr. Umphraville possesses, with all that generosity of sentiment, and goodness of heart, so conspicuous in every thing he says or does, which so strongly endear him to his friends, I am apt to think, that, in the very intimate cornection of the married life, the woman of delicacy and sensibility might often feel herself hurt by the peculiarities of character to which he is subject. ,
The situation of a wife is, in this respect, very different from that of a sister. Miss Umphraville's observation of her brother's peculiarities, neither lessens her esteem nor her affection for him ; these peculiarities serve only to increase her attention to him, and to make her more solicitous to prevent their effects. But in that still closer connection which subsists between husband and wife, while the perception of his weakness might not have lessened the wife's affection, it might have given her a distress which a sister will not be apt to feel : a sister may observe the weaknesses of a brother without a blush, and endeavour to correct them without being hurt; a wife might be able to do neither.
These views which I have given of Mr. Umphra. ville and his family, may, perhaps, appear tedious to my readers. In giving this detail, I am afraid I have not sufficiently remembered, that, as they have not the same intimate acquaintance with that gentleman which I have, they will not feel the same interest in what relates to him.
N° 20. SATURDAY, APRIL 3, 1779.
WHILE so many subjects of contention occupy the
ries of business and ambition, and prove the
source of discord, envy, jealousy, and rivalship, among mankind, one would be apt to imagine, that the pursuits and employments of studious and literary men would be carried on with calmness, good temper, and tranquillity The philosophic sage, retired from the world, who hath truth for the object of his inquiries, might be willing, it were natural to suppose, to give up his own system, when he found it at variance with truth, and would never quarrel with another for adopting a different one ; and the man of elegance and taste, who has literary entertainment in view, would not, one should think, find fault with the like amusements of other men, or dispute with rancour or heat, upon mere matters of taste. But the fact has been otherwise : the disputes among the learned have, in every age, been carried on with the utmost virulence; and men, pretending to taste, have railed at each other with unparalleled abuse. Possibly the abstraction from the world, in which the philosopher lives, may render him more impatient of contradiction than those who mix oftener with common societies; and perhaps that fineness and delicacy of perception which the man of taste acquires, may be more liable to irritation than the coarser feelings of minds less cultivated and improved.
I have been led into these remarks by a conversa, tion at which I happened lately to be present. Last week, having left with my Editor materials for my next paper, I went to the country for a few days, to pay a visit to a friend, whose real name I shall conceal under that of Sylvester. Sylvester, when a young man, had retired to the country and having succeeded to a paternal estate, which was sufficient for all his wants, had lived almost constantly at home. His time was spent chiefly in study, and he had pubLished some performances which did honour to his
genius and his knowledge. During all this time, Sylvester was the regular correspondent of a gentleman whom I shall here call Alcander, whose taste and pursuits were in many respects similar to his own. Alcander, though he was not an author like Sylvester, had from nature, a very delicate taste, which had been much improved by culture. From a variety of accidents the two friends had not met for a great number of years; but while I was at Sylvester's house, he received a letter from Alcander, notifying that gentleman's being on his way to visit him ; and soon after he arrived accordingly.
It is not easy to describe the pleasure which the two friends felt at meeting. After the first salutations, their discourse took a literary turn. I was delighted, as well as instructed, with the remarks which were made upon men and books, by two per. sons of extensive information and accomplished taste; and the warmth with which they made them, added a relish to their observations. The conversation lasted till it was very late, when my host and his friend retired to their apartments, much pleased with each other, and in full expectation of additional entertainment from a continuation of such intercourse at the return of a new day.
Next morning, after breakfast, their literary discourse was resumed. It turned on a comparison of the different genius and merit of the French and English authors. Sylvester said, he thought there was a power of reasoning, a strength of genius, and a depth of reflection in the English authors, of which the French, in general, were incapable ; and that, in his opinion, the preference lay greatly on the side of the writers of our own country. Alcander begged leave to differ from him ; he admitted there was an appearance of depth in many of the English authors, but he said it was false and hollow. He maintained,