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zles and seduces the young and inexperienced. But let them not believe that the scale of fortune is the standard of happiness, or the whirl of pleasure, which their patronesses describe, productive of the satis faction which they affect to enjoy in it. Could they trace its course through a month, a week, or a day, of that life which they enjoy, they would find it commonly expire in languor, or end in disappointment. They would see the daughters of fashion in a state the most painful of any, obliged to cover hatred with the smile of friendship, and anguish with the appearance of gaiety; they would see the mistress of the feast, or the directress of the route, at the cable, or in the drawing-room, in the very scene of her pride, torn with those jarring passions which but I will not talk like a moralist which make dutchesses mean, and the finest women in the world ugly. I do them no injustice: for I state this at the time of possession ; its value in reflection I forbear to estimate.
If I dared to contrast this with a picture of domestic pleasure ; were I to exhibit a family virtuous and happy, where affection takes place of duty, and obedience is enjoyed, not exacted; where the happiness of every individual is reflected upon the society, and a certain tender solicitude about each other, gives a more delicate sense of pleasure than any enjoyment merely selfish can produce; could I paint them in their little circles of business or of amuse. ment, of sentiment or of gaiety, I am persuaded the scene would be too venerable for the most irreverent to deride, and its happiness too apparent for the most dissipated to deny. Yet to be the child or mother of such a family, is often foregone for the miserable vanity of aping some woman, weak as she is worthless, despised in the midst of flattery, and wretched in the very centre of dissipation,
I have limited this remonstrance to motives merely temporal, because I am informed, some of our highbred females deny the reality of any other. This refinement of infidelity is one of those new acquires ments, which, till of late, were altogether unknown to the ladies of this country, and which I hope very; very few of them are yet possessed of. I mean not to dispute the solidity of their system, as I am per: suaded they have studied the subject deeply, and un. der very able and learned masters. I would only take the liberty of hinting the purpose for which, I have been told by some fashionable men, such doc. trines have frequently been taught. It seems, it is understood by the younger class of our philosophers, that a woman never thinks herself quite alone, till she has put God out of the way, as well as her hus band.
Nji. TUESDAY, MAY 11, 1779.
Fortemque Gyan, fortemque Cloanthum.
THERE is hardly any species of writing more difficult than that of drawing characters; and hence it is that so few authors have excelled in it. Among those writers who have confined themselves merely to this sort of composition, Theophrastus holds the first place among the ancients, and La Bruyere among the moderns. But, besides those who have professedly confined themselves to the delineation of character, every historian who relates events, and who describes the disposition and qualities of the persons engaged in them, is to be considered as a writer of characters.
There are two methods by which a character may be delineated; and different authors have, more or less, adopted the one or the other. A character may either be given by describing the internal feelings of the mind, and by relating the qualities with which the person is endowed; or, without mentioning in general the internal qualities which he possesses, an account may be given of his external conduct, of his behaviour on this or that occasion, and how he was affected by this or that event.
An author who draws characters in the first manner, employs those words that denote the general qualities of the mind; and by means of these he gives a description and view of the character. He passes over the particular circumstances of behaviour and conduct which lead to the general conclusion with regard to the character, and gives the conclusion itself.
But an author who draws characters in the other manner above alluded to, instead of giving the general conclusion deduced from the observation of particular circumstances of conduct, gives a view of the particulars themselves, and of the external conduct of the person whose character he wishes to represent, leaving his readers to form their own conclusion from that view which he has given. Of the two authors I have mentioned, each excels in one of those opposite manners. In every instance I can recollect, excepting the extravagant picture of the absent man, La Bruyere lays before his readers the internal feelings of the character he wishes to represent; while Theophratus gives the action which the internal feel. ings produce.
Of these different modes of delineating characters, each has its peculiar advantages. The best method of giving a full and comprehensive view of the dif. ferent parts of a character, may be by a general enu: meration of the qualities of mind with which the person is endowed: while, at the same time, it is, per. baps, impossible to mark the nice and delicate shades of character, without bringing the image more fully before the eye, and placing the person in that situa. tion which calls him forth into action.
In these two different manners, there are faults into which authors, following the one or the other, are apt to fall, and which they should studiously endeavour to avoid. An author who gives the internal qualities of the character, should guard against being too general ; he who gives views of the conduct, and represents the actions themselves, should avoid being too particular. When the internal qualities of the mind are described, they may be expressed in such vague and general terms, as to lay before the reader no marked distinguishing feature ; when, again, in the views which are given of the conduct, the detail is too particular, the author is apt to tire by becoming tedious, or to disgust by being trifting or familiar, or by approaching to vulgarity. Some of our most celebrated historians have committed errors of the first sort ; when, at the end of a reign, or at the exit of a hero, they draw the character of the King, or great man, and tell their readers, that the person they are taking leave of, was brave, generous, just, bumane ; or the tyrant they have been declaiming against, was cruel, haughty, jealous, deceitful; these general qualities are so little distinguishing, that they may be applied, almost, to any very good, or very bad man, in the history. When, on the other hand, an author, in order to give a particular view of the person of whom he writes, tells his readers, what
such person did before, and what after dinner; what before, and what after he slept; if his vivacity pre, vent him from appearing tedious, he will at least be in danger of displeasing by the appearance of vulgarity or affectation.
It may be proper here to observe, that, in making a right choice of the different manners in which a character may be drawn, much depends upon the subject, or design of the author; one method may be more suited to one kind of composition than to another. Thus the author who confines himself merely to drawing characters, the historian who draws a character arising only from, or illustrating the events he records, or the novellist who delineates characters by feigned circumstances and situations, have each their several objects, and different manners may be properly adopted by each of them. Writers, such as Theophrastus and La Bruyere, take for their object a character governed by some one passion, absorbing all others, and influencing the man in every thing; the miser, the epicure, the drunkard, &c. The business of the historian is more difficult and more extensive ; he takes the complicated characters in real life; he must give a view of every distinguishing characteristic of the personage, the good and the bad, the fierce and the gentle, all the strange diversities which life presents.
Novel-writers ought, like the professed writers of character, to have it generally in view to illustrate some one distinguishing feature or passion of the mind; but then they have it in their power, by the assistance of story, and by inventing circumstances and situation, to exhibit its leading features in every possible point of view. The great error, indeed, into which novel-writers commonly fall, is, that they attend more to the story and to the circumstances they relate, than to giving new and just views of the