Page images
PDF
EPUB

rnarkably partial to letter-writing, and to the company of his young female friends, with whom he maintained a constant correspondence, and even ventured, though only in his eleventh year, to become their occasional monitor and adviser. "As a bashful and not forward boy," he relates, "I was an early favorite with all the young women of taste and reading in the neighborhood. Haifa dozen of them, when met to work with their needles, used, • when they got a book they liked, and thought I should, to borrow me to rr-ad to them; their mothers sometimes with them; and both mothers and daughters used to be pleased with the observations they put me upon making." In this exercise, doubtless, we may sec the germ of the future novelist.

At the age of sixteen he was put to the printer's tmde, which he chose because it would give him an opportunity for reading. At the termination of his apprenticeship, he became a compositor and corrector of the press, and continued in this office for nearly six years, when he entered into business for himself. By his industry, punctuality, and integrity, he became more and more known, and his business mpidly increased; so that in a few years he obtained the lncmtive situation of printer to the House of Commons. He did not, however, neglect to use his pen, and frequently composed prefaces and dedications for the booksellers. He also published a volume of " Familiar Letters," which might serve as models for persons of limited edncation.

In 1740 he published his first novel, "Pamela," which immediately attmcted an extmordinary degree of attention. "It requires a reader," says Sir Walter Scott, "to be in some degree acquainted with the huge folios of inanity over which our ancestors yawned themselves to sleep, ere he can estimate the delight they must have experienced from this unexpected return to truth and nature." Truly original in its plan, it united the interest arising from well-combined incident with the moml purposes of a sermon. Pope pmised it as likely to do more good than twenty volumes of sermons; and Dr. Sherlock recommended it from tfcc pulpit

In 1749 appeared Richardson's second and greatest work, "The History of Clarissa Harlowe," which rsised his reputation at once, as a master of fictitious narmtive, to the highest point Dr. Dmke calls it " perhaps the most pathetic tale ever published." The admimtion it excited was not confined to his own country. It was honored with two versions in French, and Rousseau declared that nothing ever equal, or approaching to it, had been prodnced in any country.

As, in the chamcter of Clarissa, Richardson had presented a picture of female virtue and honor nearly perfect, so in 1753, in the "History of Sir Charles Gmndison," he designed to give a chamcter which should combine the elegance of the gentleman with the faith and virtues of the Christian. "This, though not indeed so pathetic as his former work, discovers more knowledge of life and manners, and is perfectly free from that indelicacy and high coloring which occasionally render the scenery of Clarissa dangerous to young minds."1

In 1754 he was elected to the post of master to the Stationers' Company, a situation as lncmtive as it was honomble. For some years previous to his genius, and an unlimited command over the tender passions; yet, owing to the prolixity of his productions and the poverty of his style, his works are continually decreasing in popularity. How few now read "Clarissa,'' or "Sir Charles Grandison!" How important, then, is style to the preservation of literary labor!

In 1755 was published a curious volume with the following title:—"A - Collection of the Moral and Instructive Sentiments, Maxims, Cautions, and Reflections, contained in the Histories of Pamela, Clarissa, and Sir Charles Grandison." From it we make the following extracts:—

MORAL SENTIMENTS.

Beneficence. The power of doing good to worthy objects, is the only enviable circumstance in the lives of people of fortune.

What joy it is in the power of the wealthy to give themselves, whenever they please, by comforting those who struggle with undeserved distress.

Nothing in human nature is so God-like as the disposition to do good to our fellow-creatures.

Such is the blessing of a benevolent heart, that, let the world frown as it will, it cannot possibly bereave it of all happiness; since it can rejoice in the prosperity of others.

Calumny, Censure. No one is exempt from calumny. Words said, the occasion of saying them not known, however justly reported, may bear a very different construction from what they would have done had the occasion been told.

Were evil actions to pass uncensured, good ones would lose their reward; and vice, by being put on a foot with virtue in this life, would meet with general countenance.

A good person will rather choose to be censured for doing his duty than for a defect in it.

Children. There is such a natural connection and progression between the infantile and more adult state of children's minds, that those who would know how to account for their inclinations, should not be wholly inattentive to them in the former state.

At two or three years old, or before the buds of children's minds will begin to open, a watchful parent will then be employed, like a skilful gardener, in defending the flower from blights, and assisting it through its several stages to perfection.

Education. Tutors should treat their pupils, with regard to euch of their faulty habits as cannot easily be eradicated, as prudent physicians do their patients in chronical cases; rather with gentle palliatives than harsh extirpatives; which, by means of the resistance given to them by the habit, may create such feraients as may utterly defeat their intention.

Neither a learned nor a fine education is of any other value than as it tends to improve the momls of men, and to make them wise and good.1

A generous mind will choose to win youth to its duty hy mildness and good usage, rather than by severity.

The Almighty, by rewards and punishments, makes it our interest, as well as our duty, to obey Him; and can we propose to ourselves, for the government of our children, a better example?

Fhiendship. The more dumble ties of friendship are those which result from a union of minds formed upon religious principles.

An open and generous heart will not permit a cloud to hang long upon the brow of a friend, without inquiring into the reason of it, in hopes to be able to dispel it.

Freely to give reproof, and thankfully to receive it, is an indispensable condition of true friendship.

One day, profligate men will be convinced that what they call friendship is chaff and stubble, and that nothing is worthy of that sacred name that has not virtue for its base.

Genehal Ohsehvations. The man or woman who will obstinately vindicate a faulty step in another, seems to indicate that, in like circumstances, he or she would have been guilty of the same fault.

All our pursuits, from childhood to manhood, are only trifles of different sorts and sizes, proportioned to our years and views.

We must not expect that our roses will grow without thorns; but then they are useful and instructive thorns, which, by pricking the fingers of the too hasty plucker, teach future caution.

The Good Man. A good man lives to his own heart. He thinks it not good manners to slight the world's opinion; though he will regard it only in the second place.

A good man will look upon every accession of power to do good as a new trial to the integrity of his heart.

A good man, though he will value his own countrymen, yet will think as highly of the worthy men of every nation under the sun.

A good man is a prince of the Almighty's creation.

A good man will not engage even in a national cause, without examining the justice of it.

How much more glorious a chamcter is that of the friend of mankind, than that of the conqueror of nations?

1 "And surely happiness, duty, faith, truth, and final blessedness, are matters of deeper and dearer interest for all iwn than circles tn the nmmrfripim, or the chamcters of plants »n the tmtasiat, or

The heart of a worthy man is ever on his lips; he will be pained when he cannot speak all that is in it.

An impartial spirit will admire goodness or greatness wherever he meets it, and whether it makes for or against him.

The Good Woman. A good woman is one of the greatest glories of the creation.

How do the duties of a good wife, a good mother, and a worthy matron, well performed, dignify a woman!

A good woman reflects honor on all those who had any hand in her education, and on the company she has kept.

A woman of virtue and of good understanding, skilled in, and delighting to perform the duties of domestic lifo, needs not fortune to recommend her to the choice of the greatest and richest man, who wishes his own happiness.

Youth. It is a great virtue in good-natured youth to be able to say NO.

Those who respect age deserve to live to be old, and to be respected themselves.

Young people set out with false notions of happiness; with gay, fairy-land imaginations.

It is a most improving exercise, as well with regard to style as to morals, to accustom ourselves early to write down every thing of moment that befalls us.

There is a docile season, a learning-time in youth, which, suffered to elapse, and no foundation laid, seldom returns.

Young folks are sometimes very cunning in finding out contrivances to cheat themselves.

THOMAS SHERLOCK. 1678—1761.

This learned prelate of the Church of England was born in London, 1678. He was educated at Catherine Hall, Cambridge, of which he became master, and in 1714 was vice-chancellor of the University. In the controversies which arose at that period respecting the proofs of the divine origin of Christianity, Sherlock distinguished himself, particularly in his "Use and Intent of I'rophecy,'' anil his "Trial of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus." In 1728 he was made Bishop of Bangor, in 1734 was translated to Salisbury, ami in 1748 to London. In 1755 and 1756 he revised and corrected a large body of his sermons, which were published in four volumes. He died in 17G1, at the advanced age of eighty-three.

Sherlock's sermons are among the best specimens of English pulpit eloquence extant His style, though possessing but little ornament, is clear and vigorous, and a few passages may be selected from his writings, such as the comparison between Christ and Mahomet, that are truly sublime.

DIFFERENT ENDS OF RELIGION AND INFIDELITY.

Should the punishments of another life be what we have but too much reason to fear they will be, what words can then express the folly of sin 1 Short are our days in this world, and soon they shall expire: and should religion at last prove a mere deceit, we know the worst of it; it is an error for which we cannot suffer after death: nor will the infidels there have the pleasure to reproach us with our mistake; they and we, in equal rest, shall sleep the sleep of death. But should our hopes, and their fears, prove true; should they be so unhappy as not to die for ever—which miserable hope is the only comfort that infidelity affords—what pains and torments must they then undergo? Could I represent to you the different states of good and bad men: could I give you the prospect which the blessed martyr Stephen had, and show you the blessed Jesus at the right hand of God surrounded with angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect; could I open your ears to hear the never-ceasing hymns of pmise which the blessed above sing to him that was, and is, and is to come; to the Lamb that was slain, but liveth for ever; could I lead you through the unbounded regions of eternal day, and show you the mutual and ever-blooming joys of saints who are at rest from their labor, and live for ever in the presence of God; or, could I change the scene, and unbar the iron gates of hell, and carry you, through solid darkness, to the fire that never goes out, and to the worm thai never dies; could I show you the apostate angels fast bound in eternal chains, or the souls of wicked men overwhelmed with torment and despair; could I open your ears to hear the deep itself groan with the continual cries of misery—cries which can never reach the throne of mercy, but return in sad echoes, and add even to the very horrors of hell; could I thus set before you the different ends of religion and infidelity, you would want no other proof to convince you that nothing can recompense the hazard men run of being for ever misemble through unbelief. But, though neither the tongues of men nor of angels can express the joys of heaven, or describe the pains of hell; yet, if there be any truth m religion, these things are certain and near at hand.

THE INFORMATION THE GOSPEL GIVES, MOST DESIRABLE.

The Christian revelation has such pretences, at least, as may make it worthy of a particular considemtion. It pretends to comt from heaven; to have been delivered by the Son of God; to have

« PreviousContinue »