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but which still pursues its course, deriving from impediments themselves at once its extended utility and characteristic beauty.
This distinction between polished and vulgar intercourse consists, perhaps, in nothing more than in the line in which conversation runs; all that is elegant in the one, proceeding from the constant action of those restraints which check its right-forward movement; and all that is repulsive in the other, from those home thrusts and 'random shots, which no dexterity can escape, and no obstacle turn aside.
My meaning will be at once illustrated by two well-known instances : that of Sir James Melvil, who, being asked by Queen Elizabeth whether he esteemed herself or his mistress to have the fairest person, replied, that her Majesty was the fairest person in England, and his mistress in Scotland; and that of Cyrus, as related by Xenophon, who, being inquired of by his mother which he thought
he handsomest, his father or his grandfather, answered, “ Of the Persians, O mother, my father is much the handsomest; and of all the Medes I have seen, this, my grandfather, is the handsomest.”
What was it, I would ask, which gave to these answers their value, or their perpetuity? It was the impediment which the case presented to a direct reply, and the necessity which it imposed of evading, and, as it were, steering round those obstacles which forbid a right-forward movement.
Prudential caution, and not moral principle, was assuredly the obstacle, at least in the former of these instances; but still they both serve to illustrate my position; they both afford memorable examples of the effect of restraint upon conversation, and of the opportunities it furnishes for the exercise and exhibition of skill, of management, and of address.
But let these restraints be of a moral nature; let truth and genuine politeness be substituted for calculation and superficial polish ; and surely the general operation of these principles on conversation cannot be questioned. Let it be tried by the acknowledged rules of taste, and it will be found, that conversation, thus regulated and disposed, possesses the very secret of elegance, proportion, and animation; that politeness is the graceful drapery which throws a veil over every unseemly part; and truth, the animating principle, which gives to whatever is disclosed, all the justness of symmetry, and all the expression and vividness of real life.
Having experienced your kind attention to the short Memoirs which I successively sent you, of four of my departed children, and having reason to hope that those accounts were not void of utility, I transmit the following account of another departed daughter, whose conduct in life (if the testimony of friends may be admitted) was in many respects highly exemplary, and gave evidence of her love to God, and unfeigned faith in the Redeemer. I take this liberty also, at the request of some who were most intimately acquainted with her, and who have furnished me with such accounts as will convey a just idea of her character after she had ceased to be a member of my family.
Her natural disposition was frank, affectionate, generous, and cheerful. Religious impressions seem to have been made early upon her mind, and to have grown up gradually; but no particular period could be assigned for their commencement. In a familiar letter to her mother, when she had arrived at her twenty-fourth year, she thus expressed herself:“ It is a difficult thing for one surrounded by every comfort, to look upon this world as only a passage to the next. Indeed, the corruption of our hearts might be a sufficient reason for our wishing for a change, exclusively of all the joys that are promised to those who are so happy as to arrive at heaven: but the pain which the Christian feels on account of the corruption of his heart, is an enviable pain.”
When about twenty-six years of age, she shewed great attention to her private devotions, usually retiring three times in the day for that purpose ;
a practice which she continued through life, though nothing of ostentation ever appeared on these occasions.
In 1797, she married the Rev. R. Jwith whom an union of sentiment and affection subsisted, which was increased and confirmed by their more intimate acquaintance with each other. She became the mother of eight children, of whom seven survive to deplore the loss of an affectionate, pious, and judicious parent.
In the education of her children, she evinced great firmness without harshness, and tenderness without indulgence. In this important branch of family duty her husband concurred, and properly took a leading part. The children were early brought to behave with decorum and submission to authority, even before their understandings were capable of receiving instruction. When they were capable, instruction was conveyed to them in an impressive, yet tender manner. She had a peculiar talent for reproving what she observed amiss in their conduct; of which the following little anecdote may be considered as a specimen :-Her youngest son, then six years of age, had one Sunday behaved in a careless, and somewhat irreverent, manner at church. She was at that time forbidden by her medical advisers to speak aloud, on account of a complaint at her chest; she therefore wrote down her reproof, and desired one of her sisters to read it to the offender. As he had expressed a wish to be a minister when he should arrive at a proper age, she put her reproof into the form of a sermon; and supposed the following address to be made by