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I must be proud to see
Men not afraid of God, afraid of me!

-has ever filled me with terror and pity

MEDON.

From its truth perhaps?

ALDA.

From its arrogance,-for the truth is, that a vice never corrected a vice. Pope might be proud of the terror he inspired in those who feared no God; in whom vanity was stronger than conscience; but that terror made no individual man better; and while he indulged his own besetting sin, he administered to the malignity of others. Your professed satirists always send me to think upon the opposite sentiment in Shakspeare, on “the mischievous foul sin of chiding sin.” I remember once hearing a poem of Barry Cornwall's (he read it to me), about a strange winged creature that, having the lineaments of a man, yet preyed on a man, and afterwards coming to a stream to drink, and beholding his own face therein, and that he had made his prey of a creature like himself, pined away with repentance. So should those do, who having made themselves mischievous mirth out of the sins and sorrows of others, remembering their own humanity, and seeing within themselves the same lineaments—so should they grieve and pine away, self-punished.

MEDON.

'Tis an old allegory, and a sad one--and but too much to the purpose.

ALDA.

I abhor the spirit of ridicule—I dread it and I despise it. I abhor it because it is in direct contradiction to the mild and serious spirit of Christianity; I fear it because we find that in every state of society in which it has prevailed as a fashion, and

has given the tone to the manners and literature, it marked the moral degradation and approaching destruction of that society; and I despise it, because it is the usual resource of the shallow and the base mind, and, when wielded by the strongest hand with the purest intentions, an inefficient means of good. The spirit of satire, reversing the spirit of mercy which is twice blessed, seems to me twice accursed ;-evil in those who indulge it-evil to those who are the objects of it.

MEDON.

“ Peut-être fallait-il que la punition des imprudens et des faibles fut confiée à la malignité, car la pure vertu n'eût jamais été assez cruelle."

ALDA.

That is a woman's sentiment.

MEDON.

True—it was; and I have pleasure in reminding you that a female satirist by profession is yet an anomaly in the history of our literature, as a female schismatic is yet unknown in the history of our religion. But to what do you attribute the number of satirical

we meet in society ?

women

ALDA.

Not to our nature; but to a state of society in which the levelling spirit of persislage has been long a fashion; to the perverse education which fosters it; to affections disappointed or unemployed, which embitter the temper; to faculties misdirected or wasted, which oppress and irritate the mind; to an utter ignorance of ourselves, and the common lot of humanity, combined with quick and refined perceptions and much superficial cultivation; to frivolous habits which make serious thought a burthen, and serious feeling, a bane, if suppressed,—if betrayed, a ridicule. Women, generally speaking, are by nature too much subjected to suffering

in inany forms—have too much of fancy and sensibility, and too much of that faculty which some philosophers call veneration, to be naturally satirical.-I have known but one woman eminently gifted in mind and person, who is also distinguished for powers of satire as bold as merciless; and she is such a compound of all that nature can give of good, and all that society can teach of evil

MEDON.

That she reminds us of the dragon of old, which was generated between the sun-beams from heaven and the slime of earth.

ALDA.

No such thing. Rather of the powerful and beautiful fairy Melusina, who had every talent and every charm under heaven ; but once in so many hours was fated to become a serpent. No, I return to my first position. It is not by exposing folly and scorning fools, that we make other people wiser, or ourselves happier. But to soften the heart by images and examples of the kindly and generous affections—to show how the human soul is disciplined and perfected by suffering—to prove how much of possible good may exist in things evil and perverted—how much hope there is for those who despair-how much comfort for those whom a heartless world has taught to contemn both others and themselves, and so put barriers te the hard, cold, selfish, mocking and levelling spirit of the day —O would I could do this!

MEDON.

On the same principle, I suppose, that they have changed the treatment of lunatics; and whereas they used to condemn poor distempered wretches to straw and darkness, stripes and a strait waistcoat, they now send them to sunshine and green fields, to wander in gardens among birds and flowers, and soothe them with soft music and kind flattering speech.

ALDA.

You laugh at me! perhaps I deserve it.

с

MEDON.

No, in truth; I am a little amused, but most honestly attentive. and perhaps wish I could think more like you. But to proceed : 1 allow that, with this view of the case, you could not well have chosen your illustrations from real life; but why not from history?

ALDA.

As far as history could guide me, I have taken her with me in one or two recent publications, which all tend to the same object. Nor have I here lost sight of her ; but I have entered on a land where she alone is not to be trusted, and may make a pleasant companion but a most fallacious guide. To drop metaphor : history informs us that such things have been done or have occurred; but when we come to inquire into motives and characters, it is the most false and partial and unsatisfactory authority we can refer to. Women are illustrious in history, not from what they have been in themselves, but generally in proportion to the mischief they have done or caused. Those characters best fitted to my purpose are precisely those of which history never heard, or disdains to speak; of those which have been handed down to us by many different authorities under different aspects we cannot judge without prejudice; in others there occur certain chasms which it is difficult to supply; and hence inconsistencies we have no means of reconciling, though doubtless they might be reconciled if we knew the whole, instead of a part.

MEDON.

But instance-instance !

ALDA.

Examples crowd upon me; but take the first that occurs. Do you remember that Duchesse de Longueville, whose beautiful picture W were looking at yesterday?-the heroine of the Fronde ?think of that woman-bold, intriguing, profligate, vain, ambitious, factious !-who made men rebels with a smile ;-or if that were not enough, the lady was not scrupulous,-apparently without any principle as without shame, nothing was too much!

And then

think of the same woman protecting the virtuous philosopher Arnauld, when he was denounced and condemned; and from motives which her worst enemies could not malign, secreting him in her house, unknown even to her own servants-preparing his food herself, watching for his safety, and at length saving him. Her tenderness, her patience, her discretion, her disinterested benevolence, not only defied danger (that were little to a woman of her temper), but endured a lengthened trial, all the ennui caused by the necessity of keeping the house, continual self-control, and the thousand small daily sacrifices, which, to a vain, dissipated, proud, impatient woman, must have been hard to bear. Now if Shakspeare had drawn the character of the Duchesse de Longueville, he would have shown us the same individual woman in both situations :—for the same being, with the same faculties, and passions, and powers, it surely was : whereas in history, we see in one case a fury of discord; a woman without modesty or pity; and in the other an angel of benevolence, and a worshipper of goodness; and nothing to connect the two extremes in our fancy.

MEDON.

But these are contradictions which we meet on every page of history, which make us giddy with doubt or sick with belief; and are the proper subjects of inquiry for the moralist and the philosopher.

ALDA.

I cannot say that professed moralists and philosophers did much to help me out of the dilemma; but the riddle which history presented I found solved in the pages of Shakspeare. There the crooked appeared straight; the inaccessible, easy; the incomprehensible, plain. All I sought, I found there; his characters combine history and real life; they are complete individuals, whose hearts and souls are laid

open

before US; all may behold, and all judge for themselves.

MEDON.

But all will not judge alike.

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