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able for raising passion and paste; in those happy times I say Silence made some figure in every assembly; even court-ladies themselves were then contented with silent pleasures, and a lover who resisted all the eloquence of their eyes above-stairs, was after caught in the attractive circle of a custard, or a mince pie, of my lady's own making below in the larder.
Here I had enjoyed a peaceful reign from time immemorial; had flattered myself that modesty and I were to be inseparable companions; but it seems I was mistaken; I was first deposed at court by Miss Jenny Up-and-down, and my lady Betty Round-. about; they hunted me from drawing-room to drawing-room, purshed me from family to family; for wherever they came, I was never after admitted. Those two ladies had led the fashion for many years; they continued tip-top talkative toasts for almost half a century; I wished a thousand times to see them peaceably married out of the way; but they continued their visiting and virginity to the last, and I was undone.
From court I was obliged to retire into the city. Here I sought for some time, though in vain, for refuge; but at last happily took shelter in the family of the Widow Slumber. no fears of having my repose disturbed in this family; for though it consisted mostly of women, there was no great noise; the widow herself being lethargic, and Mrs. Abigail dumb from her cradle. Yet, who would have thought it? A captain of grenadiers attacked the widow with success, and discharged both me and the dumb waiting-maid in the flash of a pistol !
We both travelled together for some time; and whatever she thought of me, I found her excellent company; so borrowing wings from poverty, we flew up together to a garret in Drury Lane. Here all was perfect tranquillity; even carts and hack, ney coaches from below could scarce be heard ; the very woman that cried sprats was unable to interrupt our repose; and yet,
after all, our repose was interrupted. Scandal in the shape of our landlady, began to intrude upon our retirement; she did not care, she said, to lodge single women; she lived in a very honest neighborhood, and would not have her house get a bad character for our scurvy two shillings a week. So giving us warning, we were obliged to decamp; Abigail to the workhouse, and I to the place of my nativity near Penman-maur.
From this retreat then it is, Ladies, that I address you ; though I hate noise, I am equally averse to solitude. Permit me once more to return to be admitted at your entertainments; permit a banished goddess once more to show her friendship to the sex, and add lustre to your beauty. I do not know that I ever disgusted one of your lovers, though I have attracted thousands. I never knew a husband complain that I kept his wife too much company, and even on the most critical occasions my presence has been regarded as an omen of victory; for Silence gives consent.
I am, Ladies, &c., &c.
ON THE ENGLISH CLERGY AND POPULAR PREACHERS.
It is allowed on all hands, that our English divines receive a more liberal education, and improve that education by frequent study, more than any others of this reverend profession in Europe. In general also it may be observed, that a greater degree of gentility is affixed to the character of a student in England than elsewhere; by which means our clergy have an opportunity of seeing better company while young, and of sooner wearing off
[This and the three following papers originally appeared in the Ladies Magazine for 1760 and 1761. See Life, ch. x.]
those prejudices which they are apt to imbibe even in the best regulated universities, and which may be justly termed the val gar errors of the wise.
Yet with all these advantages, it is very obvious that the clergy are nowhere so little thought of by the populace as here: and though our divines are foremost with respect to abilities, yet they are found last in the effects of their ministry; the vulgar in general appearing no way impressed with a sense of religious duty. I am not for whining at the depravity of the times, or for endeavoring to paint a prospect more gloomy than in nature; but certain it is, no person who has travelled will contradict me when I aver, that the lower orders of mankind in other countries testify on every occasion the profoundest awe of religion; while in England they are scarcely awakened into a sense of its duties, even in circumstances of the greatest distress.
This dissolute and fearless conduct foreigners are apt to attribute to climate and constitution; may not the vulgar, being pretty much neglected in our exhortations from the pulpit, be a conspiring cause ? Our divines seldom stoop to their mean capacities; and they who want instruction most, find least in our religious assemblies.
Whatever may become of the higher orders of mankind, who are generally possessed of collateral motives to virtue, the vulgar should be particularly regarded, whose behavior in civil life is totally hinged upon their hopes and fears. Those who constitute the basis of the great fabric of society, should be particularly re garded; for in policy, as in architecture, ruin is most fatal when it begins from the bottom.
Men of real sense and understanding prefer a prudent mediocrity to a precarious popularity; and, fearing to outdo their duty, leave it half done. Their discourses from the pulpit are generally dry, methodical, and unaffecting ; delivered with the most insipid calmness; insomuch that, should the peaceful preacher lift his head over the cushion, which alone he seems to address, he might discover his audience, instead of being awakened to remorse, actually sleeping over his methodical and labored composition.
This method of preaching is, however, by some called an address to reason, and not to the passions; this is styled the making of converts from conviction : but such are indifferently acquainted with human nature, who are not sensible, that men seldom reason about their debaucheries till they are committed: reason is but a weak antagonist when headlong passion dictates ; in all such cases, we should arm one passion against another; it is with the human mind as in nature, from the mixture of two opposites the result is most frequently neutral tranquillity. Those who attempt to reason us out of our follies, begin at the wrong end, since the attempt naturally presupposes us capable of reason; but to be made capable of this is one great point of the cure.
There are but few talents requisite to become a popular preacher, for the people are easily pleased if they perceive any endeavors in the orator to please them; the meanest qualifications will work this effect, if the preacher sincerely sets about it. Perhaps little, indeed very little more is required, than sincerity and assurance; and a becoming sincerity is always certain of producing a becoming assurance. “Si vis me flere, dolendum est primum tibi ipsi,"* is so trite a quotation, that it almost demands an apology to repeat it; yet, though all allow the justice of the remark, how few do we find put it in practice! Our orators, with the most faulty bashfulness, seem impressed rather with an awe of their audience, than with a just respect for the truths they are
* [“ If you would have me weep, begin the strain,
Then I shall feel your sorrows, feel your pain." -Francis.]
about to deliver; they, of all professions, seem the most bashfun, who have the greatest right to glory in their commission.
The French preachers generally assume all that dignity which becomes men who are ambassadors from Christ: the English divines, like erroneous envoys, seem more solicitous not to offend the court to which they are sent, than to drive home the interests of their employer. Bishop Massillon, in the first sermon he ever preached, found the whole audience, upon his getting into the pulpit, in a disposition no way favorable to his intentions; their nods, whispers, or drowsy behavior, showed him that there was no great profit to be expected from his sowing in a soil so improper; however, he soon changed the disposition of his audience by his manner of beginning : “ If,” says he, “a cause, the most important that could be conceived, were to be tried at the bar before qualified judges; if this cause interested ourselves in particular; if the eyes of the whole kingdom were fixed upon the event; if the most eminent counsel were employed on both sides ; and if we had heard from our infancy of this yet undetermined trial; would you not all sit with due attention, and warm expectation, to the pleadings on each side? Would not all your hopes and fears be hinged upon the final decision? And yet, let me tell you, you have this moment a cause of much greater importance before you; a cause where not one nation, but all the world are spectators; tried not before a fallible tribunal, but the awful throne of Heaven, where not your temporal and transitory interests are the subject of debate, but your eternal happiness or misery, where the cause is still undetermined; but perhaps, the very moment I am speaking may fix the irrevocable decree that shall last for ever; and yet, notwithstanding all this, you can hardly sit with patience to hear the tidings of your own salvation. I plead the cause of Heaven, and yet I am scarcely attended to," &c.