« ZurückWeiter »
with patience of this history or its author; he never speaks of him but as of a mean lying fellow, who knowingly wrote the tales of a party, and who, to serve a faction, wished to deceive the Public. Phin dippus is mistaken: Licinius, in one sense of the word, was perfectly honest; he did not wish to deceive ; but he was himself under the influence of deception. The heat of his fancy, the violence of his zeal, led him away ; convinced that he was much in the right, he was desirous to be still more so ; he viewed, and was at pains to view, every thing in one light; all the characters, and all the transactions of the time, were seen under one colour; and, under this deception he saw, and thought, and wrote. When Phidippus accuses Licinius of being wilfully dishonest, he is mistaken, and is under the influence of a like deception with that of Licinius. Licinius wrote unfairly, because he saw every thing in one light, and was not at pains to guard against
self-deception, or to correct erroneous judgment. Phidippus judges of Licinius unfairly, because he also is under the influence of party, because his system and opinions are different from those of Licinius, and because this leads him to judge harshly of every one who thinks like Licinius.
Lysander is a young man of elegance and sentiment; but he has a degree of vanity which makes him wish to be possessed of fortune, not to hoard, but to spend it. He has a high opinion of female merit ; and would not for any consideration, think of marrying a woman for whom he did not believe he felt the most sincere and ardent attachment. In this situation of mind he became acquainted with Leonora: Leonora's father was dead, and had left her possessed of a very considerable fortune ; Lysander had heard of Leonora, and knew she was possess
ed of a fortune before ever he saw her. She is not remarkable either for the beauties of person or of mind; but the very first time Lysander saw her, he conceived a prepossession in her favour, and which has
grown into a strong attachment. Lysander believes it is her merit only which has produced this; and he would hate himself, if he thought Leonora's being possessed of a fortune had had the least influence upon
him. But he is mistaken ; he does not know himself, nor that secret power the desire of wealth has over him. The knowledge of Leonora's being an heiress made him secretly wish her to be possessed of personal merit before he saw her; when he did see her, he converted his wishes into belief; he desired to be deceived, and he was so. He conceived that she was possessed of every accomplishment of person and of mind; and, his imagination being once warmed, he believed and thought that he felt a most violent attachment. Had Leonora been without a fortune, she would never have drawn Lysander's attention ; he would have never thought more highly of her merit than he did of that of most other women; and he would not have become the dupe of his wishes and desires.
Amanda is a young lady of the most amiable dispositions. With an elegant form, she possesses a most uncommon degree of sensibility. Her parents reside at Bellfield, in a sequestered part of the coun. try. Here she has few opportunities of being in society, and her time has chiefly been spent in read. ing. Books of sentiment, novels, and tender poetry, are her greatest favourites. This kind of reading has increased the natural warmth and sensibility of her mind : it has given her romantic notions of life, and particularly warm and passionate ideas about love. The attachment of lovers, the sweet union of hearts, and hallowed sympathy of souls, are continually pictured in her mind. Philemon, a distant relation of Amanda's, happened to pay a visit to Bellfield. Amanda's romantic notions had hitherto been general, and had no object to fix upon.
But it is difficult to have warm feelings long, without directing them to some object. After a short ac. quaintance, Philemon became very particular in his attentions to her. Amanda was not displeased with them; on the contrary, she thought she saw in him all those good qualities which she felt in her own mind. Every look that he gave, and every word that he spoke, confirmed her in this. Every thing she wished to be in a lover, every thing her favourite authors told her a lover ought to be possessed of, she believed to be in Philemon. Her parents perceived the situation of her mind. In vain did they represent to her the danger she ran, and that she had not yet acquaintance enough of Philemon to know any thing, with certainty, about his character. She ascribed these admonitions to the too great coldness and prudence of age, and she disregarded them. Thus did Amanda believe her. self deeply enamoured with Philemon ; but it could not be with Philemon, for she knew little of him. She was the dupe of her own wishes ; and she de. ceived herself into a belief that she was warmly attached to him, when it was only an ideal being of her own creation that was the object of her passion. Philemon may be worthy of the love of Amanda, or Amanda may be able to preserve the deception she is under even after marriage ; but her danger is apparent.
The influence of self-deception is wonderfully powerful. Different as are the above persons, and different as their situations, all have been under its guidance. As observed above, dishonesty, in our
ordinary transactions in the world, is a vice which only the most corrupted and abandoned are in danger of falling into; but that dishonesty with ourselves, which leads us to be our own deceivers, to become the dupes of our own prevailing passions and inclinations, is to be met with more or less in every character. Here we are, as it were, parties to the deceit, and instead of wishing to guard against it, we become the willing slaves of its influence. By this means, not only are bad men deceived by evil passions into the commission of crimes, but even the worthiest men, by giving too much way to the best and most amiable feelings of the heart, may be led into fatal errors, and into the most prejudicial misconduct. Did men, however, endeavour to guard against the influence of this self-deceit, did they coolly and on all interesting occasions examine into the principles and motives of their conduct, did they view the elves not under the mist and cover of passion, but with the eyes of an impartial spectator, much might be done to avoid the dangers I have pointed out.
N° 56. SATURDAY, AUGUST 7, 1779.
The first of the two following Letters I received some time ago from my friend Mr. Umphraville ; and I think I need make no apology, either to him or my readers, for giving it a place in this day's MIRROR.
My dear Sir, The moment that I found myself disengaged from business, you know I left the smoke and din of your blessed city, and hurried away to pure skies and quiet at my cottage.
I found my good sister in perfect health, free from flying rheumatic pains, agueish complaints, slight megrims, and apprehensions of the toothach, and all the other puny half pangs that indolence is beir to, and that afford a kind of comfort to the idle, by supplying them with topics of complaint and conversation.
You must have heard that our spring was singu. larly pleasant ; but bow pleasant it was you could not feel in your dusky atmosphere. My sister remarked that it had a faint resemblance of the spring in — Although I omit the year, you may believe that sea veral seasons have passed away since that animating æra recollected by my sister. Alas! my friend, said I, seasons return, but it is only to the young
and the fortunate.' A tear started in her eye ; yet she smiled, and resumed her tranquillity.