網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

• Amelia's favourite grove, indulging that grief he, ( so carefully conceals from us.'

We returned to the house, and found Mr. Wentworth with the rest of the company. He forced on some conversation, and even affected a degree of gentle pleasantry during the whole evening.

Such, in short, is the noble deportment of my friend, that, in place of finding it necessary to tem. per and moderate his grief, I must avoid seeming to perceive it, and dare scarcely appear even to think of the heavy calamity which has befallen him. I too well know what he feels ; but the more I know this, the more does the dignity of his recollection and fortitude excite my admiration, and command my silent attention and respect.

How very different is this dignified and reserved sorrow, from that weak and teazing grief which disgusts, by its sighs and tears, and clamorous lamentations ? How much does such noble fortitude of deportment call forth our regard and reverence ? How much is a character in other respects estimable, degraded by a contrary demeanour? How much does the excessive, the importunate, and unmanly grief of Cicero, diminish the very high respect which we should otherwise entertain for the exalted cha. racter of that illustrious Roman?

Writers on practical morality have described and analyzed the passion of grief, and have pretended to prescribe remedies for restoring the mind to tranquillity ; but, I believe, little benefit has been de. rived from any thing they have advised. To tell a person in grief, that time will relieve him, is truly applying no remedy ; and to bid him reflcct how many others there may be who are more wretched, is a very inefficacious one. The truth is, that the excess of this, as well as of other passions, must be prevented rather than cured. It must be obviated by

our attaining that evenness and equality of temper, which can arise only from an improved understand. ing, and an habitual intercourse with refined so. ciety. These will not, indeed, exempt us from the pangs of sorrow, but will enable us to bear them with a noble grace and propriety, and will render the presence of our friends (which is the only remedy) a very effectual cure.

This is well explained by a philosopher, who is no less eloquent than he is profound. He justly observes, that we naturally, on all occasions, endeavour to bring down our own passions, to that pitch which those about us can correspond with, We view ourselves in the light in which we think they view us, and seek to suit our behaviour to what we think their feelings can go along with. With an intimate friend, acquainted with every cir. cumstance of our situation, we can, in some mea. sure, give way to our grief, but are more calm than when by ourselves. Before a common acquaintance, we assume a greater sedateness. Before a mixed assembly, we affect a still more considerable degree of composure. Thus, by the company of our friends at first, and afterwards by mingling with society, we come to suit our deportment to what we think they will approve of; we gradually abate the violence of our passion, and restore our mind to its wonted tranquillity,

N° 28. SATURDAY, MAY 1, 1779.

Currit ad Indos,

Pauperiem fugiens. . HOR. • And did you not blush for our countrymen?' said Mr. Umphraville to Colonel Plum, as the latter was describing the sack of an Indian city, and the plunder of its miserable inhabitants, with the death of a Rajah who had gallantly defended it.

* Not at all, Sir,' answered the Colonel coolly : our countrymen did no more than their duty; and were we to decline performing it on such occasions, "we should be of little service to our country in • India.'

Mr. Umphraville made no answer to this defence; but a silent indignation, which sat upon his countenance, implied a stronger disapprobation of it, than the most laboured reply he could have offered.

For the same reason which induced him to avoid any farther discussion of the subject, my friend endeavoured to give the conversation a different turn. He led the Colonel into a description of the country of India ; and, as that gentleman described, in verylively colours, the beauty of its appearance, the number of its people, and the variety and richness of its productions, Mr. Umphraville listened to this part of his discourse with an uncommon degree of pleasure and attention.

But, after the Colonel's departure (for this conversation happened during one of my excursions ta Mr. Umphraville's, where Colonel Plum had been on a visit), the former part of the conversation recurred immediately to my friend's memory, and produced the following reflect...s. • VOL. XXXTY.

I know not,' said he, ' a more mortifying proof • of human weakness, than that power which się • tuation and habit acquire over principle and feeling, • even in men of the best natural dispositions.

• The gentleman who has just left us, has derived • from Nature a more than ordinary degree of good • sense. Nor does she seem to have been less liberal

to him in the affections of the heart, than in the . powers of the understanding.

. Since his return to this country, Colonel Plum ! has acted the part of an affectionate and generous • relation, of an attentive and useful friend : he has • been an indulgent landlord, a patron of the indus. • trious, and a support to the indigent. In a word, • he has proved a worthy and useful member of so

ciety, on whom fortune scems nat to have mis, • placed her favours.

Yet, with all the excellent dispositions of which these are proofs,-placed as a soldier of fortune in 1 India; inflamed with the ambition of amassing • wealth ; corrupted by the contagious example of ! others, governed by the same passion, and engaged

in the same pursuit, Colonel Plum appears to have ! been little under the influence either of justice or • humanity ; he seems to have viewed the unhappy • people of that country merely as the instruments,

which, in one way or other, were to furnish him**self and his countrymen with that wçalth they had

gone so far in quest of.

? If these circumstances could operate so strongly on such a man as Colonel Plum, we have little ( reason to wonder that they should have carried • others of our countrymen tó still more lamentable • excesses ; that they should have filled that unhappy • country with scenes of misery and oppression, of $ which the recital fills us with equal shame and • indignation. Yet such examples as that of the

Colonel should perhaps dispose us in place of vio,

lently declaiming against the conduct of individu. • als, to investigate the causes by which it is pro. • duced:

The conquests of a commercial people have al. ways, I believe, proved uncommonly destructive ;

and this might naturally have been expected of I those made by our countrymen in India, under the

direction of a mercantile society conducted by its • members in a distant country, in a climate fatal to • European constitutions, which they visit only for • the purpose of suddenly amassing riches, and from

which they are anxious to return as soon as that • purpose is accomplished.

*How far such a company, whose original con*nection with India was merely the prosecution of • their private commerce, should have ever been al

lowed to assume, and should still continue to • possess, the unnatural character of sovereigns and

conquerors; and to conduct the government of • a great empire ; is a point which may, perhaps, • merit the attention of the legislature, as much as • many of the more minute inquiries in which they • have of late been engaged.

I have often thought how much our superior • knowledge in the art of government might enable * us to change the condition of that unfortunate

country for the better. I have pleased myself with • fondly picturing out the progress of such a plan; * with fancying I saw the followers of Mahomet lay • aside their ferocity and ambition ; the peaceful • disciples of Brahma, happy in the security of a • good government, and in the enjoyment of those • innocent and simple manners which mark the in• Auence of a fruitful climate and a beneficent re. ·ligion.-But, alas !' continued Mr. Umphraville, with a sigh, such reformations are more easily efa « fected by me in my elbow-chair, than by those

« 上一頁繼續 »