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Roman emperors, who pretended to divinity, were generally taught by a poignard that they were mortal; and Alexander, though he passed among barbarous countries for a real god, could never perfuade his polite countrymen into a fimilitude of thinking. The Lacedemonians fhrewdly complied with his commands by the following farcaftic edict:
Ει Αλιξανδρο, Βεληται ειναι ΘεΘ, Θεος εγώ.
TO THE SAME.
THERE is fomething irresistibly pleafing in the con
verfation of a fine woman; even though her tongue be filent, the eloquence of her eyes teaches wifdom. The mind fympathizes with the regularity of the object in view, and ftruck with external grace vibrates into respondent harmony. In this agreeable difpofition, I lately found myself in company, with my friend and his niece. Our conversation turned upon love, which fhe feemed equally capable of defending and inspiring. We were each of different opinions upon this fubject; the lady infifted that it was a natural and univerfal paffion, and produced the happiness of those who cultivated it with proper precaution. My friend denied it to be the work of nature, but allowed it to have a real existence, and affirmed that it was of infinite fervice in refining society; while I, to keep up the dispute, affirmed it to be merely a name, first used by the cunning part of the fair fex, and
admitted by the filly part of ours, therefore no way more natural than taking fnuff or chewing opium.
"How is it poffible, cried I, that such a paffion can be natural, when our opinions even of beauty, which infpires it, are entirely the refult of paffion and caprice? The ancients, who pretended to be connoiffeurs in the art, have praised narrow foreheads, red hair, and eyebrows that joined each other over the nose. Such were the charms that once captivated Catullus, Ovid, and Anacreon. Ladies would, at prefent, be out of humour, if their lovers praised them for fuch graces; and should an antique beauty now revive, her face would certainly be put under the difcipline of the tweezer, foreheadcloth, and lead comb, before it could be seen in public company.
"But the difference between the ancients and moderns is not fo great as between the different countries of the present world. A lover of Gongora, for inftance, fighs for thick lips; a Chinese lover is poetical in praise of thin. In Circaffia, a ftraight nofe is thought most confiftent with beauty; crofs but a mountain which feparates it from the Tartars, and there flat noses, tawny skins, and eyes three inches afunder, are all the fashion, In Perfia and fome other countries, a man when he marries, chufes to have his bride a maid; in the Philippine Islands, if a bridegroom happens to perceive on the first night that he is put off with a virgin, the marriage is declared void to all intents and purposes, and the bride fent back with difgrace. In fome parts of the East, a woman of beauty, properly fed up for fale, often amounts to one hundred crowns; in the kingdom of Loango, ladies of the very best fashion are fold for a pig; queens however VOL. II.
fell better, and fometimes amount to a cow. In short, turn even to England, do not I there fee the beautiful part of the fex neglected; and none now marrying or making love, but old men and old women that have faved money? Do not I fee beauty from fifteen to twen. ty-one rendered null and void to all intents and purposes, and those fix precious years of womanhood put under a statute of virginity? What! fhall I call that rancid paffion love, which paffes between an old bachelor of fiftyfix, and a widow-lady of forty-nine? Never! never! What advantage is fociety to reap from an intercourse, where the big belly is ofteneft on the man's fide? Would any perfuade me that such a paffion was natural, unless the human race were more fit for love as they approached the decline, and, like filk-worms, become breeders just before they expired ?”
Whether love be natural or no, replied my friend, gravely, it contributes to the happiness of every society into which it is introduced. All our pleasures are short, and can only charm at intervals: love is a method of protracting our greatest pleasure; and furely that gamester who plays the greatest stake to the best advantage, will, at the end of life, rise victorious. This was the opinion of Vanini, who affirmed that every hour was loft which was not spent in love. His accusers were unable to comprehend his meaning, and the poor advocate for love was burned in flames, alas! no way metaphorical! But whatever advantages the individual may reap from this paffion, fociety will certainly be refined and improved by its introduction: all laws, calculated to difcourage it, tend to imbrute the fpecies, and weaken the state. Though it cannot plant morals in the human breaft, it
cultivates them when there: pity, generosity, and honour, receive a brighter polish from its affiftance; and a fingle armour is fufficient entirely to brush off the clown.
But it is an exotic of the most delicate conftitution; it requires the greatest art to introduce it into a fstate, and the smallest discouragement is fufficient to repress it again. Let us only confider with what ease it was formerly extinguished in Rome, and with what difficulty it was lately revived in Europe: it seemed to fleep for ages, and at laft fought its way among us through tilts, tournaments, dragons, and all the dreams of chivalry. The reft of the world, China only excepted, are, and have ever been, utter strangers to its delights and advantages. In other countries, as men find themselves stronger than women, they lay a claim to a rigorous fuperiority; this is natural, and love, which gives up this natural advantage, muft certainly be the effect of art. An art calculated to lengthen out our happier moments, and add new graces to fociety.
I entirely acquiefce in your fentiments, fays the lady, with regard to the advantages of this paffion, but cannot avoid giving it a nobler origin than you have been pleased to affign. I must think, that those countries where it is rejected, are obliged to have recourse to art to ftifle fo natural a production, and thofe nations where it is cultivated, only make nearer advances to nature. The fame efforts that are used in fome places to fupprefs pity and other natural paffions, may have been employed to extinguish love. No nation, however unpolished, is remarkable for innocence, that is not famous for paffion; it has flourished in the coldeft as well as in the
warmeft regions. Even in the fultry wilds of Southern America the lover is not fatisfied with poffeffing his mistress's person without having her mind.
In all my Enna's beauties bleft,
But the effects of love are too violent to be the refult of an artificial paffion. Nor is it in the power of fashion to force the conftitution into thofe changes which we every day obferve. Several have died of it. Few lovers are acquainted with the fate of the two Italian lovers, Da Corfin and Julia Bellamano, who, after a long separation, expired with pleasure in each others arms. Such inftances are too ftrong confirmations of the reality of the paffion, and ferve to fhew that fuppofing it is but opposing the natural dictates of the heart. Adieu.
TO THE SAME.
HE clock juft ftruck two, the expiring taper rifes and finks in the focket, the watchman forgets the hour in flumber, the laborious and the happy are at reft, and nothing walks but meditation, guilt, revelry, and despair. The drunkard once more fills the destroying bowl, the
* Tranflation of a South American Ode.