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TO THE EDITOR. SIR, As Jannetta and I were yesterday evening in our little para lour, which overlooks a beautiful champaigu towards the west, indulging such calm and pleasing reflections as naturally arise in the mind, when one is contemplating a prospect of nature under the milder radiance of the setting sun, little George and his sister came running in; and the former held betwixt his finger and thumb a single tattered leaf of some old book.
66 Look here, Papa," said the little cherub, “ is something for you to read; it had two leaves once, but sister Jessie has torn the one of them all to pieces." - was not able either by the style or subject of the essay, to ascertain the author to whom the fragment belonged. It was a mere scrap; but still there was enough of it to excite an interest, and manifest the value of what was wante: ing, and which, to me, I fear, is now irretrievably lost. It was as follows:
.“ I had seen, in the space of a few hours only, such pictures of human misery and perverseness as could not but occasion uneasiness in a mind not utterly depraved. But surely said I, Nature, or the God of nature, never intended that man should be so degraded, and so unhappy. It is passion which deforms: the beauty of the moral world; it is wickedness and the neglect of Religion that render men more miserable than the very brutes that perisht What then, can I think of those writers, who, from: pride and perverted feeling argue in defence of ima morality and against revelation? What of those men of high rank and influence who, amid all their fair claims to the merit of a glittering, benevolence, not only neglect and discourage the teachers of righteousness, but lend the force of their example, which is almost irresistible, to countenance the indulgence of such vices and follies as naturally tend to debase the human race, and widen the distance between man and his Maker? To that Maker, said I, let all who have charity, or the least pretence to, benovolonce return in the exercise of piety and virtue, and pray for the diminution of evil; and then shall they witness the extens sion of happiness under the bruad flowing banner of peace.
While reflecting in this manner I found myself at the door of
my little cottage. The evening was beautiful. The clouds in the west were variegated with colours, such as no pencil has yet been able to imitate. My garden breathed odours around, and displayed the blooming of shrubs, such as might even be supposed to adorn the poetic fields of Elysium. Every ruder passion was lulled into
heart overflowed with kind. ness. I enjoyed, for the time, a state of almost perfect felicity; and when retired to rest being so delightfully composed, I immediately sunk into a sweet and refreshing slumber.
I dreamt ; and behold I was standing on an immense plain covered over with flocks of innumerable sheep. peared to straggle without a guide. Many had their fleeces torn with brambles, some were lost in the surrounding wilderness ; q. thers were pursued by wolves; and not a few were constantly engaged in annoying each other with their horns. There was a general bleating in a tone expressive of distress. I pitied the poor
creatures ; but saw no hopes of affording them relief, till I turned my eyes toward the eastern part of the plain, and beheld a venerable shepherd, with a crook in his hand, inviting them into a fold, through which ran a delightful stream of clear water. Many rushed in, and began to drink with avidity. The alterations in their appearance was in the highest degree pleasing. The lambs played about without fearing the wolf; and the sheep lay and basked in the sun-sline, or sought a refreshment in the cooling shade. The shepherd's looks were mild and benevolent beyond expression. He used every enticement to bring the whole flock into his fold; but many would not hear his voice; and others seemed to hear it, but perversely ran away from him. I saw those who were so unhappy as to refuse his invitation, per-ish miserably by falling over rocks—by famine--by the violence of the wolf—and by disease. I turned from the painful prospect to see the good shepherd and his sheep of the fold. They followed him whithersoever he went; and I observed at the dawning of a new day, when the rest disappeared, how he led them into a green and never-failing pasture, the verdure and fertility of which were constantly increased by a gentle river that arose from a crystal fountain and flowed through the midst of it.
I was so delighted with the scene before me, that I was going to call out to the shepherd in an extacy of joy, when I awoke. I could not but lament the absence of so pleasing a vision : but it left with me an indelible impression ; and I went forth resol
Lowering the Standard of Right.
ved to devote the rest of my life to the alleviation of evil, wherever I should find it; and above all to secure an interest in His favour, who alone is able to lead me from this vale of misery to the still waters of life, and the green pastures of eternal felicity.". Bloomfield Cottage,
I am Sir, Yours, &c. 6th April, 1819.
AGAINST LOWERING THE STANDARD OF
Among all the devices dangerous to our moral safety, certain favourite and specious maxims are not the least successful, as they carry with them an imposing air of indulgent candour, and always seem to be on the popular side of good nature. One of the most obvious of these is, that method of reconciling the conscience to practices not decidedly wicked, and yet not scrupulously right, by the qualifying phrase, that there is no harm in it
. I am mistaken if inore innocent persons do not inflame their spia ritual veckoning by this treacherous apology than by almost any other means. l'ew are systematically or designedly wicked, or propose to themselves at first more than such small indul. gencies as they are persuaded have no harm in them. But this latitude is gradually and imperceptibly enlarged. As the expression is vague and indeterminate, as the darkest shade of virtue, and the lightest shade of vice, melt into no very incongruous colouring; as the bounds between good and evil are not always so precisely defined, but that he who ventures to the confines of the one, will find biinself on the borders of the other ; every one furnishes his own definition ; every one extends the supposed limits a little farther; till the bounds that fence in
pers mitted from unlawful pleasures are gradually broken down, and the marks which separate them imperceptibly destroyed.
This process is remarkably accelerated by the excessive politeness and vicious delicacy of the present day. t is indeed, one of the most alarming symptoms of degeneracy in morals that the distinctions of right and wrong, are almost swept away in polite conversation. The most serious offences are often named with the coolest indifference ; and the effects of shameless profligacy treated with the softest tenderness and most indulgent sympathy. Atrocious deeds should never be called by gentle names; nor
Remarks on the Nationality of the Scots.
the consequences of deliberate vice put on the same level with ħatural disease and unavoidable misfortune. This must certainly contribute more than any thing else, to weaken the attractions of virtue, and diminish the horror of vice in the minds of the rising generation. And the practice is not less unfounded than it is hurtful. That our passions should be too often engaged on the side of error, we may look for the cause, though not for the vindication, in the unresisted propensities of our constitution : but that our reason should ever be employed in its favour, that our conversation should ever be taught to palliate it, that onr judgment should ever look on it with indifference, has no shadow of excuse; because this can pretend to no foundation in nature, no apology in temptation, no palliative in passion.
However defective therefore our practice may be, though allured by seduction, or hurried on by passion, let us beware of lowering the standard of right. This induces an imperceptible corruption into the heart, stagnates the noblest principle of action, irrecoverably debases the sense of moral and religious obligation, and prevents us from living up to the height of our nature. It cuts off all communication with virtue, and almost prevents the possibility of a return to it. If we do not rise as high as we aiin, we shall rise the higher for having aimed at a lofty mark: but where the rule is low, the practice cannot be high, though the converse of the proposition is not proportionably true.
REMARKS ON THE NATIONALITY OF THE
TO THE EDITOR.
paper I took an opportunity of making some gen.
and in every
Remarks on the Nationality of the Scots.
employ every instrument of art and nature, to restrain the encroachments of its rival, and preserve its own liberty.
The consequences we might therefore expect from such a locality, are every where perceived; a state of jealous activity is invariably maintained, the profession of a soldier is ranked above every other, and the military character pervades every, rank of society. The more independence is threatened, and the more difficult it is to preserve, it is cherished with the greater ardour. Every circumstance which can keep alive such a passion is fondly preserved, and an enthusiasm attaches itself to the people, which is ready to burst into flame on every appearance of danger.
Placed in the vicinity of a powerful adversary, the Scots had long to contend for their liberty: there were scarcely any natural barriers to prevent an enemy from entering their country. The Tweed and the Cheviot hills were too inconsiderable obstacles to afford any impediment to an enterprising foe. Urged on by the rage of conquest, the English monarchs bent their formidable arms to the subjugation of the North. For a thousand years warfare continued at different times to spread desolation over Britain, preventing all improvement, and prolonging the age of ignorance and barbarity. The inhabitants having spo inclination to yield up their independence, maintained it for
ages, and sealed it with their blood. They became a race of soldiers; every man at the command of his lord was liable to be called to the field. It was not the principle of the feudal gov. ernment to maintain standing armies; the poverty of the country prevented an expedient, which had it been practicable, would have endangered the reign of every monarch who sat upon the throne. The nobles haughty and little subject to controul, were the petty sovereigns of the country; their vassals followed their standards with alacrity, and obeyed them with greater pleasure than the commands of their sovereign prince. A few such chieftains united, could set the king at defiance, and disturb the economy of the whole kingdom. The vassals were taught to recognise their lord as the only one entitled to their obedience; they supported his authority, were protected by his power, and made subject to the influence of his civil jurisdiction. This seems to have been the state of Europe during the middle
: as civilization advanced, the ties of course came to be broken, and the mutual union fell to the ground