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readily joined in a loud laugh at reports the most scandalous and false ; yea, helped on the conversation with, evident marks of delight. The remaining part of the company, with few exceptions, seemed in their element, and went from one subject to another with peculiar volubility, till at last they hit on detraction. Here they made a stand, and intrenched for battle; seemingly determined never to lay down the weà. pons of defamation, till there was not an innocent, but was either killed, wounded, or taken.
Could I hope to paint this scene in true colors, I would readily undertake the work; not because the work is in itself delightful, or because I shall either be thanked or paid for it ; but because I hope, that in such a group of likenesses, each one will pick out his or her own; and if any thinks it ugly, that he will excuse or pardon the painter, for doing justice to the original, and be induced to present a fairer face at the next sitting.
There, says one, he has given the countenance, the expression of envy ; and I never in my whole life possessed a spark of that malignant passion. It is true, I sometimes feel pained, when I see others more beautiful than myself, or when they are more loved and caressed ; or when they have more riches and splendor. I own, also, when I think they shine brighter than they ought, that I take some pleasure in casting a veil of calumny over them. But how wrong it is, to paint me with marks of envy, merely because I try to keep others from rising too high, or shining too bright.
Plagne on that picture he has drawn for me, cries another ; one would think, on sight of it, that I was the vainest and most frivolous creature alive. I will not deny but I go every Saturday to the milliners' shops, for the newest fashion, and what lady of quality can be found, who would not wish a new head-dress every sabbath ? And suppose that in the course of one year, I should shape my bonnet by all the figures of Euclid, and torture and change these a thousand ways, to make out the necessary changes in fashion; or if I deck myself all over with bows, streamers, jewels, hoops, rings; or if I press my ribs into my liver with corsets, or put on the bands of gentility, to make me walk erect, or starve myself half to death, for the sake of a delicate countenance, or take as many steps, and make as many motions as a soldier under the command of a drill sergeant ; what vanity can there be in all this, that I must be so meanly represented by that haso fellow, the painter?
What a rascal, exclaims a third, with a tone peculiar to her character, to draw me with such a malicious look. But he may paint as he pleases, I'll warrant him I'm not made of that flexible stuff, ever to forgive an injury done me. No, a miscreant, who has the temerity to wrong me, shall feel my vengeance and hatred forever.
I'll pursue him to his grave, and torment his posterity when he is dead. He may call it malice, if he chooses, but I call it a just resentment—a noble resistance !
Another expresses the highest indignation, by saying, see, he would make me believe I had no more delicacy and politeness than a country milk-maid. But I'll let him know, that I understand all the technical phraseology of the tea-table. I can sip at a cup of tea, and nibble a piece of toast according to the newest and strictest rules of gentility. And what does it matter, if I can neither read nor write, and know nothing of such unnecessary trifles, as long as I'm genteel, and can dance, and am taken for a lady.
If that fellow, exclaims another, has not represented me as a tattler, I'll be hanged. See, he's painted me with my mouth wide open, and as if I was running from house to house with my stories, to make mischief. What if I do set the whole neighborhood by the ears! What business is that to him? I'll let him know if I have a mind to run about, and tell tales, and leave out a part of the truth, add what is not true, conjecture some things, and make many more out of nothing, that he's a dirty fellow, for painting me as he's done. I like well enough to see people quarrel, now and then ; but I don't think I make more mischief than other folks do.
Thus you see the treatment I am likely to meet with; but shall these deter me from working at my calling ? Shall I not attempt to paint the groupe in which Charles unhappily found himself ? or rather shall I not take a copy from the original picture which he drew? A man who draws caricatures, must expect to be hooted at, as a fool for his pains ; and get nothing but hard words and broad grins.
But while there remains any hope, that people can be either laughed or persuaded out of their ridiculous folly, nothing shall deter me from the use of the pencil, though the picture should combine with itself all the laughable and weeping deformities of moral depravity.
The ceremonies of introduction, and of taking seats, need no description. The conyersation opened on dress. What
a beautiful piece of cambrie, your gown is; I think it the prettiest fashion I ever saw. 0, that is certain the finest, and handsomest piece of lace that ever was worn. ever see so handsome a ring in your
life? As strange as may seem, to those acquainted with such parties, after two hours of like conversation, they dismissed it, as if it no longer afforded matter of delight. But they entered on other subjects, which, though less vain and trifling; yet certainly were not less criminal.
There is Miss M. she is much thought of among some people, but if they knew as much about her as I know, they would alter their opinion. Yes, and Mr. S. is a church member, yet he got as drunk as a sot, the other day. Have you heard what a lie our next neighbor told about me? Mr. Jefferson is certainly an infidel, and you see if he don't burn all the bibles and meeting-houses. And Mrs. D. too, was found in bed with another man. How strange it is, that people will behave so ! O dear, I don't know what the world is coming to! I don't see for my life, what people can think of themselves! I should'nt dare do as Deacon N. has done, for all he is such a good man. Why, what has he done? Why, he's cheated that poor widow out of all her estate.You don't say so ! 0 it is certain true. Who told you u? Why, Mr. A. told me that Mr. B. said, that Mr. C. said, that Mr. D. said, that he heard Mr. E. say, that Miss F. heard Mr. G's little boy say, that Sam. Telltale told him so. O it must be true then, if it came so correct. Ah, this is'nt half as bad as Mrs. 0. did, a little while since. Don't you think that sh
was so cruel as to whip one of her husband's children almost to death, for nothing. That's just like motherin-laws. But how did you hear on't? 0 Tom. Falsely was there and see it. It must be so then ; how sorry I am for the poor little child. But what did her husband say ? O he dare not say a word, for she rules him with a rod of iron. As true as you live, Mr. P. and his wife fought thi
e Other night like cats and dogs. There's a christianfor you, now, so you see, this fuss about religion, good for nothing. I'll be hang'd, if I want to be so plaguey religious, and then fight with my husband. They were going on in their beloved employment, when the servant came with the tea. It was as bitter as the spirit which had influenced their conversation ; yet they praised its flavor, at the very instant their stomachs loathed it, and secretly wished it reduced three
fourths; and all out of mere politeness ; because it would be a most unmannerly thing not to say, in company, that bitter is sweet.
The conversation which took place after tea, beggars description.
If one has read of Mahomet's angel he saw in the seventh heavens, and can conceive of a creature with seventy thousand heads, and in each head seventy thousand tongues, and each tongue uttering seventy thousand voices, he may conjecture what sometimes may be heard, when a multitude of human tongues, and subjects, and words, run foul of each other.
Charles being tired, asked leave of absence, and hurried off, with shame, mortification, and doubts, which were not easily resolved. One moment he condemned himself for misspent time; the next he imagined that the new trait he had discovered in human nature, might justify him thus far. • For the end of studying the manners and characters of men, am I come out from under the roof of my father. But have I not paid too dear for this piece of knowledge? Can I justily myself for sitting a silent spectator of such depravity, weakness and folly? Was it not my duty to reprove? Or would not my youth and indiscretion have involved me in diificulty, and increased the evil?
Full of these agitations, he came back to Mr. P's, and gave him as just a view of the subject as he could. Mr. P. had witnessed such evils, though he never suffered them in his own house, nor in any other place where he judged it duty to interfere. And he generally avoided going to places which afforded an opportunity of checking vice, or promoting virtue. After hearing the account Charles gave him, he made some excellent remarks, in the right manner of im. proving time in seasons of visiting.
There are various ways, said Mr. P. of misspending time; bui here the commission of crimes, heinous in their nature, painful and susting in their consequences, is joined with the loss of time, it renders it doubly criminal. Some people idle away their golden hours, thougb they have the capacity of doing much good; yet these are saints, compared with those who commence the most unjust and cruel hostilities on the characters of others, by envious or ill founded slander. Nor can it l'ail to increase our astonishment, to know, that not a few of these prosess to be disciples of the benevolent Jesus.
But what one evidence do they give of possessing his temper, or of walking in his steps ?
Nor is it much to the honor of human nature, that a large circle of rational beings, who will tell you they expect to give an account for the deeds done in the body, should spend hours, talking in raptures about a foolish fashion, or the quality of a gown; as if it afforded them the highest intellectual entertainment.
The causes of these evils are various—according to circumstances, tempers and places. Some may be unthinkingly drawn into them, by associating with those, who practise it, and by the commonness of the evil, and its being practised by such as, otherwise, have a fair reputation Others wish to add to their own small stock of merit, by eclising the shining virtues of the innocent. Others are very talkative, and have no religious subjects of conversation, for which they have any affection, or with which they have any acquaintance, and they are equally ignorant of the sciences of human nature in general, or of any useful customs and manners in particular. And what must they do? They will gabble, and will not learn any thing useful. The consequence is, their empty heads, and vicious hearts will be filled with slander and nonsense, which their tongues will utter. But among all the causes of this vice, none is more unaccountable, and extensive in its influence, than the blind mis. take under which some commit it, by supposing it a great mark of deep piety, and of zeal for holiness, to be always inveighing with bitterness against the vices of others. They foster within, a malignant, jealous spirit, which occasions them to break fellowship with all they know, because their sour censorious tempers, veil every virtue, uncover every failing, convert unavoidable infirmities into real faults, and make faults out of nothing, by groundless suspicion.
They would have you understand, by the sanctimonious face they put on, and the tone of sorrow they assume, that they scandalize other men, with the pure intention of guarding their own souls against evil; and of bringing those they scandalize to the path of virtue. Such bitter railings, with all the apparent sanctity they can wear, never did, and never will have any other effect, than to harden and deprave both the scandaliser and the scandalised. Hence, men are set against each other with all the bitterness and malice of demons; breaches of trust and friendship, menacing lan