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mirers of Corneille, to save that great poet's honour upon the ascendant that Racine began to take over him, always said, that it was not to be expected, that fo old a man could dispute the prize, before such judges, with so young a man as his rival. But this observation has been found unjust, fince posterity seems to have ratified the verdict of that tribunal : and Racine, though dead, is still the favourite of the fair fex, as well as of the best judges among the men.
There is only one subject of which I am apt to distrust the judgment of females, and that is concerning books of gallantry and devction, which they commonly affect as high flown as possible; and most of them seem more delighted with the warmth, than with the justness of the passion. I mention gallantry and devotion as the same subject, because, in reality, they become the same when treated in this manner ; and we may observe, that they both depend upon the very fame complexion. As che fair sex hạye a great share of the tender and amorous disposition, it perverts their judgment on this occasion, and makes them be easily affected, even by what has no propriety in the expression or nature in the sentiment. Mr. Addison's elegant discourses on religion have no relish with them, in comparison of books of mystic devotion : and Otway's Tragedies are rejected for the rakes of Mr. Dryden.
Would the ladies correct their false taste in this particular, let them accustom themselves a little
more to books of all kinds ; let them give encouragement to men of fense and knowledge to frequent their company ; and finally, let them concur heartily in that union I have projected betwixt the learned and conversible worlds. They may, perhaps, meet with more complaisance from their ufual followers than from men of learning ; but they cannot reasonably expect fo fincere an affection: and, I hope, they will never be guilty of fo wrong a choice, as to sacrifice the substance for the fhadow,
OF MORAL PREJUDICES. THERE is a set of men lately fprung up amongst us, who endeavour to distinguish themselves by ridiculing every thing, that has hitherto appeared facred and venerable in the eyes of mankind. Reafon, fobriety, honour, friendship, marriage, are the perpetual subjects of their insipid raillery; and even public spirit, and a regard to our country, are treated as chimerical and romantic. Were the fchemes of these anti-reformers to take place, all the bonds of society must be broken, to make way for the indulgence of a licentious mirth and gaiety; the companion of our drunken frolics must be preferred to a friend or brother ; diffolute prodigality must be supplied at the expence of every thing valuable, either in public or private; and men shall have so little regard to any thing beyond themselves, that, at last, a free constitution of
government must become a scheme perfectly impracticable among mankind, and must degenerate into one universal system of fraud and corruption.
There is another humour which may be observed in some pretenders to wisdom, and which, if not so pernicious as the idle petulant humour above mentioned, must, however, have a very bad effect on those who indulge it. I mean that
I mean that grave philofophic endeavour after perfection, which, under pretext of reforming prejudices and errors, ftrikes at all the most endearing sentiments of the heart, and all the most useful biasses and instincts, which can govern a human creature.
The Stoics were re. markable for this folly among the ancients; and I with some of more venerable characters in later times had not copied them too faithfully in this particular. The virtuous and tender fentiments, or prejudices, if you will, have suffered mightily by these reflections; while a certain sullen pride or contempt of mankind has prevailed in their stead, and has been esteemed the greatest wisdom; though, in reality, it be the most egregious folly of all others. Statilius being solicited by Brutus to make one of that noble band who struck the God-like stroke for the liberty of Rome, refused to accompany them, saying, that all men were fools or mad, and did not deserve that a wise man should trouble his head about them.
My learned reader will here easily recollect the reaf n, which an ancient philosopher gave, why he would not be reconciled to his brother, who folicited his friendship. He was too much a philosopher to think that the connexion of having sprung from the same parent, ought to have any influence on a reasonable mind, and expressed his sentiment after Such a manner as I think not proper to repeat. When your friend is in affliction, says Epictetus, you may counterfeit a fympathy with him, if it give him relief; but take care not to allow any compassion to fink into your heart, or disturb that tranquillity, which is the perfection of wisdom. Diogenęs being asked by his friends in his fickness, what should be done with him after his death? Why, fays he, throw me out into the fields-What, replied they, to the birds or beasts ? -- No: place a cudgel by me, to defend myself withal.---To what pur, pose? say they, you will not have any sense, nor any power of making use of it. Then if the beasts should devgur me, cries he, all I be any more sensible of it? I know none of the sayings of that philosopher, which shews more evidently both the liveliness and ferocity of his temper.
How different from these are the maxims by which Eugenius conducts himself? In his youth, he applied himself, with the most unwearied labour, to the study of philosophy; and nothing was ever able to draw him from it, except when an opportu. nity offered of serving his friends, or doing a plea, sure to some man of merit. When he was about thirty years
free life of a bachelor (in which otherwise he would have been inclined to remain), by considering that he was the last branch of an ancient fatnily, which must have been extinguished had he died without children. He made choice of the virtuous and beautiful Emira for his confort, who, after being the folace of his life for many years, and having made him the father of several children, paid at last the general debt to nature. Nothing could have fupported him under so severe an affliction, but the confolation he received from his young family, who were now become dearer to him on account of their deceased mother. One daughter in particular is his darling, and the secret joy of his foul; because her features, her air, her voice, recal every moment the tender memory of his spouse, and fill his eyes with tears. He conceals this
partiality as much as possible ; and none but his intimate friends are acquainted with it. To them he reveals all his tenderness ; nor is he so affectedly philosophical, as even to call it by the name of weakness. They know that he still keeps the birth-day of Emira with tears, and a more fond and tender recollection of past pleasures, in like manner as it was celebrated in her lifetime, with joy and feftivity. They know that he preserves her picture with the utmost care, and has one pi&ture in miniature, which he always wears next to his bosom: that he has left orders in his last will, that, in whatever part of the world he shall happen to die, his body fhall be transported, and laid in the Dd 2