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Ah! hapless country! by commotions torn,
Sometimes, when sinking in unwary rest,
Ah! could but France recall those happy days,
extended o'er the realm its arm,
ON THE PROPRIETY OF GIVING PERFECT CHARACTERS IN
Quo virtus -?
Hor. Now say, where virtue stops. It is with some a very strong objection against our
author (Mr. Richardson), that he proposes to our imitation, what they call a perfect character in the person of Clarissa. Clarissa's character is indeed exalted, but is not humanly perfect; and in proposing a character something more than humanly perfect to our imitation, I cannot at present discern any absurdity; for is it not recommended to those who study to excel in any art or science, that they form themselves after the most perfect models, even although it be morally impossible for them ever to attain the perfection of these models ? Does not the celebrated judge of the sublime very strongly recommend this rule, when he proposes for the imitation of those who would attempt epic poetry and oratory, no less perfect patterns than Homer and Demosthenes ? Nay, if we may, without profanation, use this other illustration, does not the Scripture enjoin us to imitate the great original of all perfection? This rule is founded in nature and reason. If the model be imperfect, the copies must of consequence be more imperfect; and so liable to error is the human mind, that we are as prone to initate the faults as the excellencies of what is proposed for an original to us. Now, shall this rule be allowed to every other science, and not to the most important of all sciences, the science of life and manners? I know the grand objection is, that to give a man or woman a perfect character is out of nature. A character absolutely perfect does not, we acknowledge, belong to man.
But what height of excellence even a human soul may arrive at, we cannot ascertain, till we have left no experiments untried. One, who had never seen the tricks of a wire-dancer, would be apt to ridicule as fabulous the first accounts he should hear of those astonishing feats, of which long application and unwearied industry, make these performers capable. Who can tell what happy, what glorious effects might be produced, were an equal proportion of industry applied to the regulation of the passions, and the strengthening and improving the reasoning powers ? Let not then the novelist be censured, if his hero or heroine be possessed of a proportion of virtue superior to what we have discovered in our acquaintance with mankind; provided the natural genius inherent in the hero or heroine, assisted by the improvements of the happiest education, be sufficient to render their virtues at least probable. Nature, we must remember, had endued Clarissa with a genius of the most exalted kind, and a temperament of soul formed to receive the impressions of virtue. This genius, and this disposition, improved by the culture of a liberal and strictly virtuous education, amid the simplicity of a country life, could not fail to produce an admirable character ; nor do I think this character (all circumstances considered) stretched beyond the limits of humanity. Clarissa's external conduct was indeed unblameable (and I hope, for the honour of mankind, there are many to be found whose external conduct is unblameable), but she often acknowledges her heart was not so. She owns she was conceited and puffed up in her happy days, and not entirely proof against the suggestions of chagrin and
despondency in her adversity. If, then, her character be perfect, we must call it (as we before called it), humanly perfect.
Jack Ketch, worn down with
half-a-crown; I say again, not any one
For my poor carcase, when I'm gone.
ACCOUNT OF THE FRANCISCAN CONVENT IN THE ISLAND
FUNCHAL, the capital of the island of Madeira, like other towns and cities of Roman Catholic countries, bas, no scarcity of churches and couvents; but we