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His warm and generous affection while we were together, with the tenderness which he expressed to me at parting, make his absence almost insupportable. I think of him every moment of the day, and meet him every night in my dreams. Everything I see puts me in mind of him. I apply myself with more than ordinary diligence to the care of his family and estate; but this, instead of relieving me, gives me but so many occasions of wishing for his return. I frequent the rooms where I used to converse with him, and not meeting him there, sit down in his chair, and fall a weeping. I love to read the books he delighted in, and to converse with the persons whom he esteemed. I visit his picture a hundred times a day, and place myself over-against it whole hours together. I pass a great part of my time in the walks where I used to lean upon his arm, and recollect in my mind the discourses which have there passed between us : I look over the several prospects and points of view which we used to survey together, fix my eye upon the objects which he has made me take notice of, and call to mind a thousand agreeable remarks which he has made on those occasions. I write to him by every conveyance, and, contrary to other people, am always in good humour when an east wind blows, because it seldom fails of bringing me a letter from him. Let me entreat you, sir, to give me your advice upon this occasion, and to let me know how I may relieve myself in this my widowhood. I
. sir, your most humble servant,
“ I am,
Absence is what the poets call death in love, and has given occasion to abundance of beautiful complaints in those authors who have treated of this passion in verse.
Ovid's Epistles are full of them. Otway's Monimia talks very tenderly upon this subject.
--It was not kind
Heal my unquiet mind, and tune my soul. The consolations of lovers on these occasions are very extraordinary. Besides those mentioned by Asteria, there are
many other motives of comfort, which are made use of by absent lovers.
I remember in one of Scudery's Romances, a couple of honourable lovers agreed at their parting to set aside one half hour in the day to think of each other during a tedious absence. The romance tells us, that they both of them punctually observed the time thus agreed upon; and that whatever company or business they were engaged in, they left it abruptly as soon as the clock warned them to retire. The romance further adds, that the lovers expected the return of this stated hour with as much impatience as if it had been a real assignation, and enjoyed an imaginary happiness that was almost as pleasing to them as what they would have found from a real meeting. It was an inexpressible satisfaction to these divided lovers, to be assured that each was at the same time employed in the same kind of contemplation, and making equal returns of tenderness and affection.
If I may be allowed to mention a more serious expedient for the alleviating of absence, I shall take notice of one which I have known two persons practise, who joined re‘igion to that elegance of sentiments with which the passion of love generally inspires its votaries. This was, at the reurn of such an hour, to offer up a certain prayer for each other, which they had agreed upon before their parting. The husband, who is a man that makes a figure in the polite world, as well as in his own family, has often told me, that he could not have supported an absence of three years without this expedient.
Strada, in one of his prolusions, gives an account of a chimerical correspondence between two friends by the help of a certain loadstone, which had such a virtue in it, that if it touched two several needles, when one of the needles so touched began to move, the other, though at never so great a distance, moved at the same time and in the same manner. He tells us that the two friends, being each of them possessed of one of these needles, made a kind of dial-plate, inscribing it with the four-and-twenty letters, in the same manner as the hours of the day are marked upon the ordinary dialplate. They then fixed one of the needles on each of these plates in such a manner, that it could move round without impediment, so as to touch any of the four-and-twenty letters. Upon their separating from one another into distant
countries, they agreed to withdraw themselves punctually into their closets at a certain hour of the day, and to converse with one another by means of this their invention. Accordingly, when they were some hundred miles asunder, each of them shut himself up in his closet at the time appointed, and immediately cast his eye upon his dial-plate. If he had a mind to write anything to his friend, he directed his needle to every letter that formed the words which he had occasion for, making a little pause at the end of every word or sentence, to avoid confusion. The friend, in the mean while, saw his own sympathetic needle moving of itself to every
letter which that of his correspondent pointed at. By this means they talked together across a whole continent, and conveyed their thoughts to one another in an instant, over cities or mountains, seas or deserts.
If Monsieur Scudery, or any other writer of romance, had introduced a necromancer, who is generally in the train of a knight-errant, making a present to two lovers of a couple of those above-mentioned needles, the reader would not have been a little pleased to have seen them corresponding with one another when they were guarded by spies and watches, or separated by castles and adventures.
In the mean while, if ever this invention should be revived, or put in practice, I would propose, that upon the lover's dial-plate there should be written not only the four-andtwenty letters, but several entire words which have always a place in passionate epistles, as fames, darts, die, languish, absence, Cupid, heart, eyes, hang, drown, and the like. This would very much abridge the lover's pains in this way of writing a letter, as it would enable him to express the most useful and significant words with a single touch of the needle.
Formam quidem ipsam, Marce fili, et tanquam faciem honesti vides : quæ si oculis cerneretur, mirabiles amores (ut ait Plato) excitaret sapientiæ. TULL. OFFIC.
I do not remember to have read any discourse written expressly upon the beauty and loveliness of virtue, without considering it as a duty, and as the means of making us happy both now and hereafter. I design, therefore, this speculation as an essay upon that subject, in which I shall consider virtue no further than as it is in itself of an amiable nature, after having premised, that I understand by the word virtue such a general notion as is affixed to it by the writers of morality, and which by devout men generally goes under the name of religion, and by men of the world under the name of honour.
Hypocrisy itself does great honour, or rather justice, to religion, and tacitly acknowledges it to be an ornament to human nature. The hypocrite would not be at so much pains to put on the appearance of virtue, if he did not know it was the most proper and effectual means to gain the love and esteem of mankind.
We learn from Hierocles it was a common saying among the heathens, that the wise man hates nobody, but only loves the virtuous.
Tully has a very beautiful gradation of thoughts, to show how amiable virtue is. We love a virtuous man, says he, who lives in the remotest parts of the earth, though we are altogether out of the reach of his virtue, and can receive from it no manner of benefit; nay, one who died several years ago raises a secret fondness and benevolence for him in our minds, when we read his story : nay, what is still more, one who has been the enemy of our country, provided his wars were regulated by justice and humanity, as in the instance of Pyrrhus, whom Tully mentions on this occasion in opposition to Hannibal. Such is the natural beauty and loveliness of virtue.
Stoicism, which was the pedantry of virtue, ascribes all good qualifications of what kind soever to the virtuous man. Accordingly Cato, in the character Tully has left of him, carried matters so far that he would not allow any one but a virtuous man to be handsome. This indeed looks more like a philosophical rant than the real opinion of a wise man; yet this was what Cato very seriously maintained. In short, the Stoics thought they could not sufficiently represent the excellence of virtue, if they did not comprehend in the notion of it all possible perfection; and therefore did not only suppose that it was transcendently beautiful in itself, but that it made the very body amiable, and banished every kind of deformity from the person in whom it resided.
It is a common observation, that the most abandoned to all sense and goodness are apt to wish those who are related to them of a different character; and it is very observable, that none are more struck with the charms of virtue in the fair sex, than those who by their very admiration of it are carried to a desire of ruining it.
A virtuous mind in a fair body is indeed a fine picture in a good light, and therefore it is no wonder that it makes the beautiful sex all over charms.
As virtue in general is of an amiable and lovely nature, there are some particular kinds of it which are more so than others, and these are such as dispose us to do good to mankind. Temperance and abstinence, faith and devotion, are in themselves perhaps as laudable as any other virtues; but those which make a man popular and beloved are justice, charity, munificence, and in short all the qualifications that render us beneficial to each other. For which reason even an extravagant man, who has nothing else to recommend him but a false generosity, is often more beloved and esteemed than a person of a much more finished character, who is defective in this particular.
The two great ornaments of virtue, which show her in the most advantageous views, and make her altogether lovely, are cheerfulness and good nature. These generally go together, as a man cannot be agreeable to others who is not easy within himself. They are both very requisite in a virtuous mind, to keep out melancholy from the many serious thoughts it is engaged in, and to hinder its natural hatred of vice from souring into severity and censoriousness.
If virtue is of this amiable nature, what can we think of those who can look upon it with an eye of hatred and ill. will, or can suffer their aversion for a party to blot out all the merit of the person who is engaged in it. A man must be excessively stupid, as well as uncharitable, who believes that there is no virtue but on his own side, and that there are not men as honest as himself who may differ from him in political principles. Men may oppose one another in some particulars, but ought not to carry their hatred to those qualities which are of so amiable a nature in themselves, and have nothing to do with the points in dispute. Men of virtue, though of different interests, ought to consider themselves as more nearly united with one another than with the