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session of money is justly forfeited by its loss. She that has once demanded a settlement has allowed the importance of fortune; and when fhe cannot shew pecuniary merit, why should she think her cheapener obliged to purchase ?

My lovers were not all contented with filent desertion. Some of them revenged the neglect which they had formerly endured by wanton and superfluous insults, and endeavoured to mortify me, by paying, in my presence, those civilities to other ladies, which were once devoted only to me. But, as it had been my rule to treat men according to the rank of their intellect, I had never suffered any one to waste his life in suspense, who could have employed it to better purpose, and had therefore no enemies but coxcombs, whose resentment and respect were equally below

my consideration. The only pain which I have felt from degradation, is the loss of that influence which I had always exerted on the side of virtue, in the defence of innocence, and the affertion of truth. I now find my opinions flighted, my sentiments criticised, and my arguments opposed by those that used to listen to me without reply, and struggle to be first in expressing their conviction.

The female disputants have wholly thrown off my authority; and if I endeavour to enforce my reasons by an appeal to the scholars that happen to be present, the wretches are certain to pay their court by sacrificing me and my fystem to a finer gown ; and I am every hour insulted with contradiction by cowards, who could never find till lately that Melisa was liable There are two perfons only whom I cannot charge with having changed their conduct with my change of fortune. One is an old curate that has passed his life in the duties of his profession, with great reputation for his knowledge and piety; the other is a lieutenant of dragoons. The parson made no difficulty in the height of my elevation to check me when I was pert, and instruct me when I blundered ; and if there is any alteration, he is now more timorous lest his freedom should be thought rudeness. The .foldier never paid me any particular addresses, but very rigidly observed all the rules of politeness, which he is now so far from relaxing, that whenever he ferves the tea, he obftinately carries me the first dish, in defiance of the frowns and whispers of the table.

to error.

There

This, Mr. RAMBLER, is to see the world. It is impoflible for those that have only known affluence and prosperity, to judge rightly of themselves or others. The rich and the powerful live in a perpetual masquerade, in which all about them wear borrowed characters ; and we only discover in what estimation we are held, when we can no longer give hopes or fears.

I am, &c.

MELISSA.

Numb. 76. SATURDAY, December 8, 1750.

Silvis ubi passim
Palantes error certo de tramite pellit,
Ille finiftrorsum, hic dextrorsum abit, unus utrique
Error, fed variis illudit partibus.

HOR.

While mazy error draws mankind astray
From truth's suire path, each takes his devious way ;
One to the right, one to the left recedes,
Alike deluded, as each fancy leads.

ELPHINSTON.

IT
T is easy for every man, whatever be his cha-

racter with others, to find reasons for esteeming himself, and therefore censure, contempt, or conviction of crimes, feldom deprive him of his own favour. Those, indeed, who can see only external facts, may look upon him with abhorrence; but when he calls himself to his own tribunal he finds every fault, if not absolutely effaced, yet so much palliated by the goodness of his intention, and the cogency of the motive, that very little guilt or turpitude remains; and when he takes a survey of the whole complication of his character, he discovers so many latent excellencies, so many virtues that want but an opportunity to exert themselves in act, and fo

many kind wishes for universal happiness, that he looks on himself as suffering unjustly under the infamy of single failings, while the general temper of his mind is unknown or unregarded.

It is natural to mean well, when only abstracted ideas of virtue are proposed to the mind, and no par. ticular passion turns us aside from rectitude; and so

willing willing is every man to flatter himself, that the difference between approving laws, and obeying them, is frequently forgotten; he that acknowledges the obligations of morality, and pleases his vanity with enforcing them to others, concludes himself zealous in the cause of virtue, though he has no longer any regard to her precepts, than they conform to his own desires; and counts himself among her warmest lovers, because he praises her beauty, though every rival steals away his heart.

There are, however, great numbers who have little recourse to the refinements of speculation, but who yet live at peace with themselves, by means which require less understanding, or less attention. When their hearts are burthened with the consciousness of a crime, instead of seeking for some remedy within themselves, they look round upon the rest of mankind, to find others tainted with the same guilt : they please themselves with observing, that they have numbers on their fide; and that, though they are hunted out from the society of good men, they are not likely to be condemned to folitude.

It may be observed, perhaps without exception, that none are so industrious to detect wickedness, or so ready to impute it, as they whose crimes are apparent and confessed. They envy an unblemished reputation, and what they envy they are busy to destroy; they are unwilling to suppose themselves meaner and more corrupt than others, and therefore willingly pull down from their elevations those with whom they cannot rise to an equality. No man yet was ever wicked without secret discontent, and according to the different degrees of remaining virtue,

or unextinguifhed reason, he either endeavours to reform himself, or corrupt others ; either to regain the ftation which he has quitted, or prevail on others to imitate his defection.

It has always been considered as an alleviation of misery not to suffer alone, even when union and fociety can contribute nothing to resistance or escape; fome comfort of the fame kind seems to incite wickedness to seek associates, though indeed another reason may be given, for as guilt is propagated the power of reproach is diminished, and among numbers equally detestable every individual may be sheltered from shame, though not from conscience.

Another lenitive by which the throbs of the breast are assuaged, is, the contemplation, not of the fame, but of different crimes. He that cannot justify himself by his resemblance to others, is ready to try some other expedient, and to inquire what will rise to his advantage from opposition and diffimilitude.

He easily finds some faults in every human being, which he weighs against his own, and easily makes them preponderate while he keeps the balance in his own hand, and throws in or takes out at his pleasure circumstances that make them heavier or lighter. He then triumphs in his comparative purity, and sets himself at ease, not because he can refute the charges advanced against him, but because he can censure his accusers with equal justice, and no longer fears the arrows of reproach, when he has stored his magazine of malice with weapons equally sharp and equally envenomed.

This practice, though never just, is yet specious and artful, when the cenfure is directed against de. Vol. V.

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