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made a just contrast with the spirited wickedness of their conversation some hours before,”
The Magdalen is devoted to the reformation of prostitutes. It was established by Dr. Dodd, a teacher of the most exalted benevolence, and yet a violater of the penal laws of his country, to support
extravagant course of life. Prostitutes admitted into this institution, are frequently brought back to the road of virtue, and reconciled with society; where, if they still hear the insulting sneers of the world, they no longer find in their own hearts the echo of those sounds, with which prudery assails their ears. Many of the females at Magdalen are," though sullied and dishonour'd, still divine.” I observed one in particular who was as beautiful as Hebe; for Time had not cropt the roses from her cheeks, though sorrow long had washed them. Her behaviour was very contrite and edifying; and her lips were emploved in pouring forth suppli. ations to the throne of that beneficent BEING, who has promised foregiveness to the repentant sinner. The light and evanescent graces, the half-visionary elegance, the sparkling luxury of air, dress and motion, which tricksomely glittered before the gay Lotharios, during her meretricious prosperity, had given way to the more dignified features of the female character; and her world-wearied soul no longer felt the light flutterings of pleasure, but was regaining the bloom which was to shed its fragrance for eternity in other worlds.
He who ascends the mountain-tops shall find
Contending tempests on his naked head,
RESPECT is due to high station; but the meed of severe rebuke should ever be awarded to the violation of moral duty, when sanctioned by the patronage of rank. Men are often impelled by the intoxication of prosperity to the commission of flagrant and pernicious enormities; indeed the annals of society scarcely afford a solitary instance, in which pride has not become inordinate, and principle has not been relaxed by the adulation and indulgence natural to high fortune and exalted rank. It is difficult to expose to view the numerous movements which revolve in the stupendous machinery of a court. I will therefore at once sever the Gordian knot with all its feudal intricacies, and show you the contemptible materials which compose it. In acquitting myself of this task, I shall avoid the common routine of insipid reasoning, and shall refer to illustrations which have escaped the pollution of the pedagogue's touch; otherwise the recital would pall upon the ear with all the disgusting recollections of pedantic monotony.
The lives of sovereigns have been compared to a rapid torrent, brilliant in prospect, but useless or dangerous in its course. In general, their private manners are vulgar and illiberal, and their dispositions contracted and selfish. The masters of mankind soar above the chastening influence of that control, to which the inferior classes are subjected; they are so much beyond the reach of public laws or private censure, that they are not obliged to regulate their actions by the wholesome rules which bind men together in society. But, strip them of the prestige, the artificial pomp and magnificence which throw a halo of splendour round them in public—the great Louis will appear a profligate spendthrift and despicable rake, the great Frederick the beastly lover of his
pages and drummers, and the great Catherine a murderess and a prostitute. Sheridan said, in one of his speeches, that some persons regarded any atrocity in monarchs, as if it had lost its nature, in not being committed by low and vulgar agents: a head with a crown, and a head with a nightcap, totally altered the moral quality of actions! Death inflicted by a hand wielding a pike or swaying a sceptre, was branded as murder, or regarded as innocent!
In the Memoirs of the Princess of Bareith, we find a splendid comment on the morality and good sense of kings and courtiers, We learn that Augustus, king of Poland, openly kept a seraglio in his palace, and had about 350 children by its inhabitants; his favourite
mistress was his own daughter, who committed incest with her brother, the rival of their infamous parent! The father of Frederick the Great, treated his children and servants with the most galling tyranny. It is well known that he attempted to bring his son to the scaffold, and, failing in that laudable endeavour, he forced hiin to witness the barbarous execu. tion of his bosom friend. The old ruffian used to kick his children about like dogs, and curse and abuse them with
foul-mouthed term of reproach; he often made them fast till they were ready to sink with hunger, and, to increase their sufferings, would eat his collation before them, and spit into the dishes out of which he had helped himself, in order to prevent their touching them!
The Memoirs of Voltaire, and the duke of Choiseul's epistle to that illustrious poet, make us acquainted with some disgusting traits in the greut Frederick's character. Who would have thought that this celebrated monarch, whom Chesterfield “ admired and almost adored," was addicted to an unnatural practice, the very name of which strikes the imagination with horror? That he was in the daily habit of indulging himself in this crime, with all the refinements depicted in the infernal pages of Justine?
Lacretelle gives some striking illustrations of the private lives of kings and courtiers. Read his account of the infamous orgies of the Regent Duke of Orleans, “ce fanfaron de
crimes," as Louis XIV. called him his anecdotes of the Cardinal Dubois, Madame de Prie, and the Pare aux Cerfs. But, perhaps, there could not be selected two better examples of contemptible cringing, in the disgraceful pages of courtly annals, than the description which Marmontel presents, in his Memoirs, of Madame de Pompadour's*“ knee-crooking knaves”—and the lively account which Walpole gives of his mother's reception at a levee, at the time when Sir Robert's influence was supposed to be on the wane. " After the accession of George II., all the nobility and gentry in town crowded to kiss their Majesties? hands, my mother among the rest—who could not make her way between the scornful backs and elbows of her late devoteesnor could approach nearer to the Queen than the third or fourth row: but, no sooner was she descried by her Majesty, than the Queen said aloud,
There I am sure I see a friend'-the torrent divided and shrunk to either side, and, as I came away (said my mother,) I might have walked over their heads if I had pleased!'”
* In that entertaining work, the Reverie, written by the author of the Adventures of a Guipea, there is the following description of a scene in La Pompadour's dressing-room: "I found her at her toilette, attended in a manner that exceeded my imagination, accustomed as I was to uncommon scenes. At her feet kneeled a bishop, in all bis sacred robes, buckling her shoes. The basin in which she washed her hands was held by a peer of the first rank. A coupsellor of the parliament painted her cheeks. A farmer of the revenues set her jewels in order. A general powdered her hair. An admiral tied her ribbands; and, to entertaip ber, a cardinal read a loose lampoon!" VOL. II.