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mirers of Corneille, to fave that great poet's honour upon the afcendant that Racine began to take over him, always faid, that it was not to be expected, that fo old a man could dispute the prize, before fuch judges, with fo young a man as his rival. But this obfervation has been found unjust, fince posterity seems to have ratified the verdict of that tribunal and Racine, though dead, is ftill the favourite of the fair fex, as well as of the best judges among the men.
There is only one fubject of which I am apt to diftruft the judgment of females, and that is concerning books of gallantry and devotion, which they commonly affect as high flown as poffible; and most of them feem more delighted with the warmth, than with the juftness of the paffion. I mention gallantry and devotion as the same subject, because, in reality, they become the fame when treated in this manner; and we may obferve, that they both depend upon the very fame complexion. As the fair fex have a great fhare of the tender and amorous difpofition, it perverts their judgment on this occafion, and makes them be easily affected, even by what has no propriety in the expreffion or nature in the sentiment. Mr. Addison's elegant difcourfes 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 falfe taste in this particular, let them accustom themselves a little
more to books of all kinds; let them give encouragement to men of fenfe and knowledge to frequent their company; and finally, let them concur heartily in that union I have projected betwixt the learned and converfible worlds. They may, perhaps, meet with more complaifance 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 facrifice the fubftance for the fhadow.
OF MORAL PREJUDICES.
THERE is a fet of men lately fprung up amongst us, who endeavour to diftinguish 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 fubjects of their infipid raillery; and even public fpirit, and a regard to our country, are treated as chimerical and romantic. Were the fchemes of thefe anti-reformers to take place, all the bonds of fociety 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 fhall have fo 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 obferved in fome pretenders to wisdom, and which, if not fo pernicious as the idle petulant humour above mentioned, must, however, have a very bad effect on those who indulge it. I mean that grave philofophic endeavour after perfection, which, under pretext of reforming prejudices and errors, ftrikes at all the most endearing fentiments of the heart, and all the most useful biaffes and inftincts, which can govern a human creature. The Stoics were remarkable for this folly among the ancients; and I wish 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 fuffered mightily by these reflections; while a certain fullen 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 folicited by Brutus to make one of that noble band who ftruck the GOD-like stroke for the liberty of Rome, refused to accompany them, faying, that all men were fools or mad, and did not deferve that a wife man should trouble his head about them.
My learned reader will here eafily recollect the reaf n, which an ancient philofopher gave, why he would not be reconciled to his brother, who folicited his friendship. He was too much a philofopher to think that the connexion of having sprung from the fame parent, ought to have any influence on a reasonable mind, and expreffed his fentiment after such a manner as I think not proper to repeat. When your friend is in affliction, fays Epictetus, you may counterfeit a fympathy with him, if it give him relief; but take care not to allow any compaffion to fink into your heart, or disturb that tranquillity, which is the perfection of wifdom. Diogenes being afked by his friends in his fickness, what fhould be done with him after his death? Why, fays he, throw me out into the fields—What, replied they, to the birds or beafts? No: place a cudgel by me, to defend myself withal. To what purpofe? fay they, you will not have any sense, nor any power of making use of it. Then if the beasts should devour me, cries he, fhall I be any more fenfible of it?
I know none of the fayings of that philofopher, which fhews more evidently both the liveliness and ferocity of his temper.
How different from thefe are the maxims by which Eugenius conducts himself? In his youth, he applied himself, with the most unwearied labour, to the study of philofophy; and nothing was ever able to draw him from it, except when an opportu. nity offered of ferving his friends, or doing a pleafure to fome man of merit. When he was about thirty years of age, he was determined to quit the
free life of a bachelor (in which otherwise he would have been inclined to remain), by confidering that he was the last branch of an ancient family, 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 feveral children, paid at laft the general debt to nature. Nothing could have fupported him under fo fevere an affliction, but the confolation he received from his young fa mily, who were now become dearer to him on account of their deceased mother. One daughter in particular is his darling, and the fecret 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 poffible; and none but his intimate friends are acquainted with it. To them he reveals all his tenderness; nor is he fo affectedly philofophical, as even to call it by the name of weakness. They know that he ftill keeps the birth-day of Emira with tears, and a more fond and tender recollection of paft pleafures, in like manner as it was celebrated in her lifetime, with joy and feftivity. They know that he preferves her picture with the utmost care, and has one picture in miniature, which he always wears next to his bofom: that he has left orders in his laft will, that, in whatever part of the world he shall happen to die, his body fhall be tranfported, and laid in the