Page images
PDF
EPUB

vice-the greater portion being occupied by the monuments erected to the illustrious he. roes and statesmen of the country. The statue of Dr. Johnson represents that philosopher in the robes of a Grecian sage. The inscription is beautiful:—“S. JOHNSONIO, poetæ luminibus sententiarum, et ponderibus verborum, ad. mirabili."

A fine monument has been erected to the celebrated philanthropist Howard, who died in Russian Tartary in 1790, a victim to his exertions in the cause of humanity. He travelled over Europe, not to admire the relics of antiquity nor the curiosities of modern art; not to survey the splendour of palaces, nor the stateliness of temples—but to dive into the depths of dungeons; " to plunge (says Burke) into the infection of hospitals; to survey the mansions of sorrow and despair; to remember the forgotten; to attend to the neglected; and to compare and collate the distressed of all men and all countries: his plan was original, and it was as full of genius as it was of humanity.” He taught the unfortunate that they were not entirely forgotten in their solitary misery.--He visited them in the abode of wretchedness, bettered their condition by the most admirable exertions of philanthropy, and removed them from the distresses and the debasing influence of indigence.

I will take you in one sweep to the cupola of St. Paul's. The smoke and eternal fogs of the metropolis, prevented me from enjoying

the prospect to advantage. If by sublimity we mean that which occupies the mind to the utmost extent of her capacity, few objects could be more sublime than this view of a million of human beings congregated upon one single spot, in which are amassed more splendour, more opulence, more greatness, and alas! more horrible depravity, wretchedness and poverty than on any part of this “ work-day world”– What a singular physiognomy this vast capital presents from the dome of St. Paul's! The smoke that clouds the prospect and contracts the horizon, appear to exhale the melancholy truth that all is smoke and vanity!

Placed so high above the busy haunts of life, the different moving objects in the streets seem diminished to Lilliputian size. From this spot I beheld the splendour of affluence rolling along in glittering chariots, and the exhibition of squalid wretchedness appeared more hideous from the disheartening comparison.

I afterwards visited the vaults underneath the Cathedral. They are destined to receive “ the canonized bones” of those parishioners who can afford 41. for a cell in this sepulchral mansion. Lord Nelson's sarcophagus is immediately under the star which adorns the church's pavement. He is made here the founder of a new dynasty of the dead. In the early period of his life, Nelson was distinguished as much by the excellence of his moral character, as by the brilliant career of his

naval triumphs; but the arts of a prostitute taught him to violate with “unblest ecstacy" the sanctity of the nuptial bed, and to prefer to the hallowed flame of virtuous love, the cold lustre which emanates from the couch of corruption. Amid the bowers of Calypso, his laurels were tarnished, and the mutilated seaman debased into the profligate Sybarite; no Mentor was at hand to save the heedless vete. ran from the violation of moral virtue and public decorum. At the instigation of Lady Hamilton, he convened a court martial of British officers at Naples, to decide on the fate of a few persons who had made a struggle for li. berty, and over whom no law gave him jurisdiction. In that court, under the shadow of the British flag, an immodest woman examined, sentenced, and insulted. The venerable Marquis de Caraccioli and his companions were hanged at the yard-arm, and their bodies consigned to the deep. Nelson accompanied Lady Hamilton to England, where his virtuous wife was neglected, and discarded from that bed which she had blessed and honoured. After languishing for some months in the lap of his wanton, his lordship was summoned, for the last time, to unfurl and defend the British flag. While sailing onwards to victory and his doom, his time was divided between the duties of his station, writing verses on his absent Emma, and uttering imprecations on his modest and unoffending wife. He often turned a lingering look back to those bowers, VOL. II.

K

“Where Pleasure lay carelessly smiling at Fame;" and even in the agony of dissolution, his latest breath aspirated the name of Lady Hamilton. The enemies of England had vainly imagined that the spell of the fair Philistine had not only rendered obtuse the delicacy of his moral sense, and the feeling of social delicacy-but that his martial genius and the natural vigour of his mind, were also consumed by the fires of unchaste love. But, remote from the fascination of her charms, “ when the Philistines were upon him,” he tore down the pillar of their hopes, and buried them, with himself and his impurities, under the same awful and mag. nificent ruin!

LETTER XLIII.

Quomodo adolescentulus
Meretricum ingenia et mores posset noscere:
Mature ut cum cognorit, perpetuò oderit. TERENT

[ocr errors]

They are false, luxurious in their appetites,

And all the Heav'n they hope for is variety. Rowe. There is something in virgin purity (says Mrs. Barbauld,) to which the imagination wil. lingly pays homage. In all ages, something saintly has been attached to the idea of unblemished chastity*_but it was reserved for Ri

* Tacitus, speaking of the Germans, says that chastity once prostituted never was forgiven, nor could the offender, whatever might be her attractions of youth, beauty, or riches, ever procure a husband.

chardson to overcome all circumstances of dis· honour and disgrace, and to throw a splendour round the violated virgin, more radiant than she possessed in her first bloom. The picture which he draws of Clarissa Harlowe beguiled into a house of ill-fame, and defending herself to the last, is perhaps one of the sublimest scenes of romance, ever embodied by human power: the fright of a timid dove struggling from the grasp of vultures, would give a faint idea of the horror of her situation. The streaks which appeared among the riotings of disorderly passions and sensual indulgences of Clarissa's virtue and modesty, showed delightfully from the glowing impurities which encircled them.

There is nothing more dangerous than listening to the allurements of vice, though with the most innocent intention. It is like playing on the brink of a precipice. By making the idea familiar, it robs it of its terrors, and lulls the senses into a deceitful security. The

gradations towards vice are almost imperceptible. The wily seducer strews the path with such enticing and delicious fowers, as will lead the inexperienced female from the slightest indiscretion to the most hideous stages of wicked.

He is too discriminating, not to know that naked and unadorned vice must inspire horror and disgust-he therefore only suffers it to come forward by degrees, till, like the ivy, it spread over the soul of his victim. He

[ocr errors]

ness.

939720

« PreviousContinue »