« ZurückWeiter »
rises to such a height, as when any strong interest or neceflity binds two persons together, and gives them some common object of pursuit. We need not, therefore, be afraid of drawing the marriage-knot, which chiefly fubfifts by friendship, the closest possible. The amity between the persons, where it is folid and sincere, will rather gain by it: And where it is wavering and uncertain, this is the best expedient for fixing it. How many frivolous quarrels and disgusts are there, which people of common prudence endeavour to forget, when they lie under a necessity of passing their lives together ; but which would soon be inflamed into the most deadly hatred, were they pursued to the utmost, under the prospect of an easy separation ?
In the third place, we must confider, that nothing is more dangerous than to unite two persons so closely in all their interests and concerns, as man and wife, without rendering the union entire and total. The lealt possibility of a separate interest must be the source of endiefs quarrels and fufpicions. The wife, not secure of her establishment, will still be driving some separate end or project ; and the husband's selfishness, being accompanied with more power, may be still more dangerous.
Should these reasons against voluntary divorces be esteemed insufficient, I hope no body will pretend to refuse the testimony of experience. At the time when divorces were most frequent among the Romans, marriages were most rare; and AUGUSTUS was obliged, by penal laws, to force men of fashion into the married itate: A circumstance which is scarcely to be found in any
other age or nation. The more ancient laws of Rome, which prohibited divorces, are extremely praised
by DIONYSIUS HALYCARNASSAUSt. Wonderful was the harmony, says the historian, which this inseparable union of interests produced between married persons; while each of them considered the inevitable necessity by which they were linked together, and abandoned all prospect of any other choice or establishment.
The exclusion of polygamy and divorces fufficiently recommends our present EUROPEAN practice with regard to marriage.
+ Lib, ii,
E S S A Y
Of SIMPLICITY and REFINEMENT in WRITING.
INE writing, according to Mr. Addison, consists
obvious. There cannot be a juster, and more concise definition of fine writing.
Sentiments, which are merely natural, affect not the mind with any pleasure, and feem not worthy of our attention. The pleasantries of a waterman, the observations of a peasant, the ribaldry of a porter or hackney coachman, all of these are natural, and disagreeable. What an insipid comedy should we make of the chit-chat of the tea-table, copied faithfully and at full length ? Nothing can please persons of taite, but nature drawn with all her graces and ornaments, la belle nature; or if we copy low life, the strokes must be strong and remarkable, and must convey a lively image to the mind. The absurd naivety of Sancho Pancho is represented in such inimitable colours by CERVANTES, that it entertains as much as the picture of the most magnanimous hero or softest lover,
The case is the same with orators, philosophers, critics, or any author who speaks in his own person, with
out introducing other speakers or actors. If his language be not elegant, his observations uncommon, his sense strong and masculine, he will in vain boast his nature and fimplicity. He may be correct; but he never will be agreeable. It is the unhappiness of such authors, that they are never blamed or censured. The good fortune of a book, and that of a man, are not the same. The secret deceiving path of life, which HORACE talks of, fallentis semita vitæ, may be the happiest lot of the one; but is the greatest misfortune, which the other can possibly fall into.
On the other hand, productions, which are merely surprising, without being natural, can never give any lasting entertainment to the mind. To draw chimeras is not, properly speaking, to copy or imitate. The juftness of the representation is loft, and the mind is difpleased to find a picture, which bears no resemblance to any original. Nor are such exceffive refinements more agreeable in the epistolary or philofophic ftile, than in the epic or tragic. Too much ornament is a fault in every kind of production. Uncommon expressions, strong flashes of wit, pointed similies, and epigrammatic turns, especially when they recur too frequently, are a disfigurement, rather than any embellishment of dif. course. As the eye, in surveying a Gothic building, is distracied by the multiplicity of ornaments, and loses the whole by its minute attention to the parts; so the mind, in perusing a work overstocked with wit, is fatigued and disgusted with the constant endeavour to shine and surprize. This is the case where a writer overabounds in wit, even though that wit, in itself, should be just and agreeable. But it commonly happens to such writers, that they seek for their favourite ornaments, even where the subject does not afford them; and by