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must, from the more frequent exercise of it, have great advantages in judging above any other person less experienced.
I have thus endeavoured to shew, that, in judging of painting, the painter himself, and even the con. noisseur, much engaged and exercised in the study of pictures, that is, illi qui rationem operis intelligunt, have advantages above the common spectators, qui voluptatem tantùm percipiunt. But, as a caution to the former, it may not be improper to conclude with observing, that the painter and connoiseur are often in danger of having their sensibility deadened, or their natural taste corrupted, by a knowledge of the technical minutia of the art, so far as to throw the balance towards the side of the common spectator.
No 49. TUESDAY, JULY 13, 1779.
As I walked one evening, about a fortnight ago, through St. Andrew's Square, I observed a girl, meanly dressed, coming along the pavement at a slow pace. When I passed her, she turned a little towards me, and made a sort of halt ; but said nothing. I am ill at looking any body full in the face : so I went on a few steps before I turned my eye to observe her. She had, by this time, resumed her former pace. I remarked a certain elegance in her form, which the poorness of her garb could not altogether overcome : her person was thin and genteel, and there was something not ungraceful in the stoop
of her head, and the seeming feebleness with which she walked. I could not resist the desire which her appearance gave me, of knowing somewhat of her situation and circumstances; I therefore walked back, and repassed her with such a look (for I could bring myself to nothing more) as might induce her to speak what she seemed desirous to say at first. This had the effect I wished. Pity a poor • orphan !' said she, in a voice tremulous and weak. I stopped, and put my hand in my pocket : I had now a better opportunity of observing her. Her face was thin and pale ; part of it was shaded by her hair, of a light brown colour, which was parted, in a disordered manner, at her forehead, and hung loose upon her shoulders ; round them was cast a piece of tattered cloak, which with one hand she held across her bosom, while the other was half out. stretched to receive the bounty I intended for her. Her large blue eyes were cast on the ground : she was drawing back her hand as I put a trifle into it : on receiving which she turned them up to me, muttered something which I could not hear, and 'then, letting go her cloak, and pressing her hands together, burst into tears.
It was not the action of an ordinary beggar, and my curiosity was strongly excited by it. I desired her to follow me to the house of a friend hard by, whose beneficence I have often had occasion to know. When she arrived there, she was so fatigued and worn out, that it was not till after some means used to restore her, that she was able to give us an account of her misfortunes.
Her name, she told us, was Collins ; the place of her birth one of the northern counties of England. Her father, who had died several years ago, left her "remaining parent 'with the charge of her, then a child, and one brother, a lad of seventeen. By his industry, however, joined to that of her mother, they were tolerably supported, their father having died possessed of a small farm, with the right of pasturage on an adjoining common, from which they obtained a decent livelihood : that, last summer, her brother having become acquainted with a recruiting serjeant, who was quartered in a neighbouring village, was by him enticed to enlist as a soldier, and soon after was marched off, along with some other recruits, to join his regiment: that this, she believed, broke her mother's heart ; for that she had never afterwards had a day's health, and, at length, had died about three weeks ago : that, immediately after her death, the steward employed by the 'squire of whom their farm was held, took possession of every thing for the arrears of their rent : that, as she had heard her brother's regiment was in Scotland when he enlisted, she had wandered hither in quest of him, as she had no other relation in the world to own her! But she found, on arriving here, that the regiment had been embarked several months before, and was gone a great way off, she could not tell whither.
• This news,' said she, laid hold of my heart; • and I have had something wrong here, putting her hand to her bosom, ever since. I got a bed •, and some victuals in the house of a woman here in • town, to whom I told my story, and who seemed • to pity me. I had then a little bundle of things, " which I had been allowed to take with me after • my mother's death; but the night before last, • somebody stole it from me while I slept; and so • the woman said she would keep me no longer, • and turned me out into the street, where I have • since remained, and am almost famished for want.'
She was now in better hands; but our assistance had come too late. A frame, naturally delicate, had yielded to the fatigues of her journey, and the hardships of her situation. She declined by slow but uninterrupted degrees, and yesterday breathed her last. A short while before she expired, she asked to see me; and taking from her bosom a silver locket, which she told me had been her mother's, and which all her distresses could not make her part with, beg. ged I would keep it for her dear brother, and give it him, if ever he should return home, as a token of her remembrance.
I felt this poor girl's fate strongly; but I tell not her story merely to indulge my feelings ; I would make the reflections it may excite in my readers, useful to others who may suffer from similar causes. There are many, I fear, from whom their country has called brothers, sons, or fathers, to bleed in her service forlorn, like poor Nancy Collins, with no
relation in the world to own them. Their sufferings are often unknown, when they are such as most demand compassion. The mind that cannot obtrude its distresses on the ear of pity, is formed to feel their poignancy the deepest.
In our idea of military operations, we are too apt to forget the misfortunes of the people. In defeat, we think of the fall, and in victory, of the glory of Commanders ; we seldom allow ourselves to consider how many, in a lower rank, both events make wretched : how many, amidst the acclamations of national triumph, are left to the helpless misery of the widowed and the orphan, and, while victory celebrates her festival, feel, in their distant hovels, the extremities of want and wretchedness!
It was with pleasure I saw, among the resolutions of a late patriotic assembly in this city, an agree. ment to assist the poor families of our absent soldiers and seamen. With no less satisfaction I read in some late newspapers, a benevolent advertisement for a
meeting of gentlemen, to consider of a subscription for the same purpose. At this season of general and laudable exertion, I am persuaded such a scheme cannot fail of patronage and success. The benevolence of this country requires not argument to awaken it ; yet the pleasures of its exertion must be increased by the thought, that pity to such objects is patriotism ; that, here, private compassion becomes public virtue. Bounties for the encouragement of recruits to our fleets and armies, are highly meritorious donations. These, however, may sometimes bribe the covetous, and allure the needy ; but that charity, which gives support and protection to the families they leave behind, addresses more generous feelings; feelings which have always been held congenial to bravery and heroism. It endears to them that home which their swords are to defend, and strengthens those ties which should ever bind the soldier of a free state to his country.
Nor will such a provision be of less advantage to posterity than to the present times. It will save to the state many useful subjects which those families thus supported may produce, whose lives have formerly been often nurtured by penury to vice, and rendered not only useless, but baneful to the communia ty; that community which, under a more kindly inAuence, they might, like their fathers, have enricha ed by their industry, and protected by their valouri