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The guardian of our young pupil, who was a woman of the first rank and fashion, could not long defer the happiness she expected to participate, when the wondering world should first witness the charms that were never beheld by her but with maternal fondness. Lavinia, who was elegant in herform, and graceful in her manners, was, therefore, introduced early into all the polite circles, and received with the most flattering tokens of admiration. Every eye was struck with her beauty, and every tongue lavish in her praise. Nor was the marked attention paid her in all companies ungratefully received: for who can be deaf to the voice of praise ? or unwilling to believe that it may be heard without vanity, and received as a just tribute to excellence, which, if hidden to ourselves and the vulgar, others, possessed of keen discernment, refined taste, and impartial judgment, have not only discovered, but kindly endeavoured to appretiate?
Few were the resorts of pleasure at which Lavinia was not the rival of her sex. She was surrounded by men of the first rank, each ambitious to attract her notice, and to bow
obsequious to her will. The sprightly sallies of her wit were heard with rapture; her fascinating demeanour captivated every heart; and she received, on every hand, those tokens of respect, a moderate share of which would have transported the hearts of thousands.
• A solitary philosopher would imagine ladies born with an exemption from care and sorrow, lulled in perpetual quiet, and feasted with unmingled pleasure ; for what can interrupt the content of those, upon whom one age has laboured after another to confer honours, and accumulate immunities; those to whom rudeness is infamy, and insult is cowardice; whose eye, commands the brave, and whose smiles soften the severe; whom the sailor travels to adorn, the soldier bleeds to defend, and the poet wears out life to celebrate ; who claim tribute from every art and science, and for whom all who approach them endeavour to multiply delights, without requiring from them any return but willingness to be pleased ?
Surely, among these favourites of nature, thus unacquainted with toil and danger, felicity must have fixed her residence; they must know only the changes of more vivid or more gentle joys; their life must always move either to the slow or sprightly melody of the lyre of gladness; they can never assemble but to pleasure, nor retire but to peace.
. Such would be the thoughts of every man who should hover at a distance round the world, and know it only by conjecture and speculation. But experience will soon discover how easily those are disgusted who have been made nice by plenty, and tender by indulgence. He will soon see to how many dangers power is exposed which has no other guard than youth and beauty, and how easily that tranquillity is molested which can only be soothed with the songs of flattery: It is impossible to supply wants as fast as an idle imagination may be able to form them, or to remove all inconveniencies by which elegance, refined into impatience, may be offended. None are so hard to please as those whom satiety of pleasure makes weary of themselves; nor any so
readily provoked as those who have been always courted with an emulation of civility.'.
In the midst of affluence and splendour, of pleasure and of praise, Lavinia still found that happiness was absent. The hour of solitude could not be endured without painful anxiety. Some. thing seemed to be wanting which the world, with all its complaisance, had not yet conferred. New expedients were therefore daily invented to tranquillize the mind, and no means left untried to regain her wonted vivacity. But, alas! the felicity of which Lavinia was in pursuit, still eluded her eager grasp. Every day witnessed new scenes of vexation and disappointment. The wakeful hours of night were spent in tracing the causes of miscarriage ; in contriving means by which to preclude a recurrence of the same, or similar impediments; and in planning schemes to ensure felicity on the morrow. Inauspicious was the morning in which the breast of Lavinia was not transported with the recollection of some new engagement to give delight, of something novel to be seen; with the hope of sparkling in the dance, of shining at the opera or the play-. house, of making new.conquests, and of receive ing fresh tokens of inviolable attachment and reverence.
• The return of night, however, but renewed disgust. Every amusement was insipid: the charms of novelty were forgotten: emptiness and vanity were stamped on every enjoyment: for whether at the toilet, the ball, the theatre, or the masque. rade, Conscience would be heard Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God,' was reiterated in every place; and in accents so distinct, that the meaning could not be mistaken. Fruitless,.. were all attempts to shun the admonitory intel. ligence, or to blunt the pain it frequently occasioned. Reflection produced remorse; the pleasures of the world, satiety and aversion; the retrospect of life, the keenest anguish, and the prospects of futurity, the horrours of despair.
: The thoughtless and the gay may, perhaps, think that the views of Lavinia were enthusiastick or chimerical. But there is no ground for the conclusion. For what is the life of a vast majority of the great, but a scene of voluptuousness