« PreviousContinue »
ters or circumstances wherein they are left, that widows may be divided into those who raise love, and those who raise compaffion.
But, not to ramble from this subject, there are two things in which consists chiefly the glory of a widow ; the love of her deceased husband, and the care of her children: To which may be added a third, arising out of the former, such a prudent conduct as may do honour to both,
A widow poffefsed of all these three qualities, makes not only a virtuous but a. sublime character,
There is something so great and fo generous in this ftate of life, when it is accompanied with all its virtues, that it is the subject of one of the finest among our modern tragedies in the person of Andromache; and had mer with an universal and deserved applause, when introduced upon our English stage by Mr. Philips.
The most memorable widow in history is Queen Artemisia, who not only erected the famous Maufslei:m, but drank up the ashes of her dead Lord: Thereby inclofing them in a nobler monument than that which she had built, though defervedly esteemed one of the wonders of architecture.
This last Lady seems to have had a better title to a second husband than any I have read of, since not one dust of her first was remaining. Our modern heroines might think a husband a very bitter draught, and would have good reason to complain, if they might not except of a second partner, until they had taken such a troublesome method of lofing the memory of the first.
I Thall add to these illustrious examples out of ancient story, a remarkable instance of the delicacy
of our ancestors in relation to the state of wi. dowhood, as I find it recorded in Cowell's Inter
preter. At East and West Enborne, in the county of Berks, if a customary tenant die, the widow shall have what the law calls her Free-bench, in all his copy-hold lands, dum fola & cafta fuerit ; that is, while she lives single and chaste; but if five commit incontinency, fbe forfeits her eftate : Vet if she will come into the court riding backward upon a black ram, with his tail in her hand, and say the words following, the steward is bound by the custom to re-admit her to her Free-bench.
Here I am,
Riding upon a black ram,
my land again. The like custom there is in the manor of Torre in Devonshire, and other parts of the Weft.
It is not impoflīble but I may in a little time prefent you with a register of Berkshire Ladies, and other western Dames, who rode publickly upon this occafion; and I hope the town will be entertained with a cavalcade of widows.
NO 615. WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 3.
Hor. Od. ix. 1. 4. ver. 47.
Smile at the doubtful ride of fate,
Who poifon less than falfehood fear,
Loth to purchase life fo dear;
must be owned that fear is a very powerful pal
fion, since it is esteemed one of the greatest of virtues to subdue it. It being implanted in us for our prefervation, it is no wonder that it sticks close to us, as long as we have any thing we are willing to preserve. But as life, and all its enjoyments, would be scarce worth the keeping, if we were under a perpetual dread of losing them ; it is the. business of religion and philofophy to free us from all unnecessary anxieties, and direct our fear to its
If we consider the painfulness of this paflion, and the violent effects it produces, we shall see how dangerous it is to give way to it upon flight occafi.
ons. Some have frightned themselves into madness, others have given up their lives to these apprehensions. The story of a man who grew gray in, the space of one night's anxiety, is very famous.
0! nox, quam longa és, quæ facis una fenem !
man old.. These apprehenfions, if they proceed from a consciousness of guilt, are the fad warnings of reason; and may excite our pity, bút admit of no remedy. When the hand of the Almighty is visibly lifted a- gainst the impious, the heart of mortal man can:
not withstand him. We have this paflion sublimely represented in the punishment of the Egyhtians, tormented with the plague of darkness, in the Aparyphal book of Wisdom, ascribed to Solomon.
• For when unrighteous men thought to oppress . the holy nation; they being shut up in their hou. • ses, the prisoners of darkness, and fettered with r the bonds of a long night, lay there exiled from • the eternal Providence. For while they suppor• ed to lie hid in their secret fins, they were scat• tered under a dark veil of forgetfulness, being · horribly astonithed and troubled with strange ap
paritions. For wickedness, condeinned by • her own witness is very timorous, and being op
preffed with conscience, always forecasteth grievous things. For fear is nothing else but a betraying
of the succours which reafon offereth. For • the whole world fbinetha with clear light, ' and none were hindered in their labour. Over • them only was spread a heavy night, an image 6 of that' darkness which should afterwards receive • them ; but yet were they unto themselves more grievous.chan the darkness."
To fear so justly grounded, no remedy can be proposed; but a man (who hath no great guilt hanging upon his mind, who walks in the plain path of justice and integrity, and yet either by natural complection, or confirmed prejudices, or neglect of serious reflection, suffers himself to be moved by this abject and unmanly paffion) would do well to consider, That there is nothing which deserves his fear, but that beneficent Being who is his friend, his protector, his father. Were this one thought strongly fixed in the mind, what calamity would be dreadful? What load can infamy lay upon us when we are sure of the approbation of him who will repay the disgrace of a moment with the glory of eternity? What sharpness is there in pain and diseases, when they only haften us on to pleafures that will never fade? What sting is in death, when we are assured that it is only the beginning of life? A man who lives so, as not to fear to die, is inconsistent with himself, if he delivers himself up to any incidental anxiety.
The intrepidity of a just good man is so nobly set forth by Horace, that it cannot be too often repeated.
Their senseless clamours and tumultuous cries ;
Not the rough whirlwind that deforins