Eliza Fowler Haywood.

Life's Progress Through The Passions Or, The Adventures of Natura online

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is of exerting reason, to restrain the excesses it would otherwise
occasion.


There are certain periods of time, in which the passions take the
deepest root within us; what at one age makes but a slight impression,
and is easily dissipated by different ideas, at another engrosses all
the faculties, and becomes so much a part of the soul, as to require
the utmost exertion of reason, and all the aids of philosophy and
religion to eradicate. - Grief, for example, is one of those passions
which, in extreme youth, we know little of, and even when we grow
nearer to maturity, has rarely any great dominion, let the cause which
excites it be never so interesting, or justifiable: it may indeed be
poignant for a time, and drive us to all the excesses imputed to that
passion; but then it is of short continuance, it dwells not on the
mind, and the least appearance of a new object of satisfaction,
banishes it entirely; we dry our tears, and remember no more what so
lately we lamented, perhaps with the most noisy exclamations: - but it
is not so when riper years give a solidity and firmness to the
judgment; - then as we are less apt to grieve without a cause, so we
are less able to refrain from grieving, when we have a real
cause. - Grief may therefore be called a reasonable passion, tho' it
becomes not a reasonable man to give way to it; - this, at first sight,
may seem a paradox to many people, but may easily be solved, in my
opinion, on a very little consideration; - as thus, - because to be
sensible of our loss in the value of the thing for which we mourn, is
a proof of our judgment, as to refrain that mourning for what is past
retrieving, within the bounds of moderation, is the greatest proof we
can give of our reason: - a dull insensibility is not a testimony,
either of wisdom or virtue; we are not to bear afflictions like
_statues_, but like men; that is, we are allowed to _feel_, but not to
_repine_, or be _impatient_ under them: - few there are, however, who
have the power of preserving this happy medium, as I before observed,
tho' they are such as have the assistance both of precept and
experience.

In a word, all that can be expected from the best of men, when pressed
with any heavy calamity, is to struggle with all his might to bear up
beneath the weight with decency and resignation; and as grief never
seizes strongly on the mind, till a sufficient number of years gives
reason strength to combat with it, that consideration furnishes matter
for praise and adoration of the all-wise and all-beneficent Author of
our being, who has bestowed on us a certain comfort for all ills, if
we neglect not to make use of it; so that no man can be unhappy,
unless he will be so.

Motives for grief which happen on a sudden merit excuse for the
extravagancies they sometimes occasion, because they surprize us
unawares, reason is off her guard, and it cannot be expected we should
be armed against what we had no apprehensions of; - presence of mind is
an excellent, but rare quality, and we shall see very few, even among
the wisest men, who are such examples of it, as to behave in the first
shock of some unforeseen misfortune, with the same moderation and
calmness of temper, as they would have done, had they had previous
warning of what was to befal them.

Much, however, are the effects of this, as of all other passions,
owing to constitution: - the robust and sanguine nature soon kindles,
and is soon extinguished; whereas the phlegmatic is slow to be moved,
and when so not easily settled into a calm: and tho' the difference of
age makes a wide difference in our way of thinking, yet as there are
old men at twenty, and boys at three-score, that rule is not without
some exceptions. But to take nature in the general, and allowing for
the different habits of body and complexion, we may be truly said to
be most prone to particular passions at particular ages: - as in youth,
love, hope, and joy; - in maturity, ambition, pride, and its attendant
ostentation; - when more advanced in years, grief, fear, and
despair; - and in old age, avarice, and a kind of very churlish dislike
of every thing presented to us.

But to return to Natura, from whose adventures I have digressed; but I
hope forgiveness for it, as it was not only the history of the man I
took upon me to relate, but also to point out, in his example, the
various progress of the passions in a human mind.

He acquitted himself of the important trust had been reposed in him,
with all the diligence and discretion could be expected from him; and
returned honoured with many rich presents from the prince to whom he
had been sent, as a testimony of the sense he had of his abilities.

But scarce had he time to receive the felicitations of his friends on
this score, before an accident happened to him, which demanded a much
more than equal share of condolance from them. - His son, his only son,
the darling of his heart, was seized with a distemper in his head,
which in a very few days baffled the art of medicine, and snatched
him from the world. - What now availed his honours, his wealth, his
every requisite for grandeur, or for pleasure? - He, for whose sake
chiefly he had laboured to acquire them, was no more! - no second self
remained to enjoy what he must one day leave behind him. - All of him
was now collected in his own being, and with _that_ being must
end. - Melancholly reflection! - yet not the worst that this unhappy
incident inflicted: - his estate, all at least that had descended to
him by inheritance, with the vast improvements he had made on it, must
now devolve on a brother he had so much cause to hate, and whose very
name but mentioned struck horror to his heart.

The motives for his grief were great, it must be allowed, and such as
demanded the utmost fortitude to sustain; - he certainly exerted all he
was master of on this occasion; but, in spite of his efforts, nature
got the upper hand, and rendered him inconsolable: - he burst not into
any violent exclamations, but the silent sorrow preyed on his vitals,
and reduced him, in a short time, almost to the shadow of what he had
been.

One of the most dangerous effects of melancholy is, the gloomy
pleasure it gives to every thing that serves to indulge it: - darkness
and solitude are its delight and nourishment, and the person possessed
of it, naturally shuns and hates whatever might alleviate it; - the
sight of his best friends now became irksome to him; - he not only
loathed, but grew incapable of all business; - he shut himself in his
closet, shunned conversation, was scarce prevailed on to take the
necessary supports of nature, and seemed as if his soul was buried in
the tomb of his son, and only a kind of vegetative life remained
within him.

His sister, who loved him very affectionately, and for whom he had
always preserved the tenderest amity, being informed of his
disconsolate condition, came to town, flattering herself with being
able to dissipate, at least some part of his chagrin. To this end she
brought with her all her children, some of whom he had never seen, and
had frequently expressed by letter, the desire he had of embracing
them, and the regret he had that the great affairs he was always
constantly engaged in, would not permit him time to take a journey
into the country where she lived.

But how greatly did she deceive herself; - he was too far sunk in the
lethargy of grief, to be roused out of it by all her kind
endeavours; - on the contrary, the sight of those near and dear
relatives she presented to him only added to his affliction, by
reminding him in a more lively manner of his own loss; and the sad
effect she found their presence had on him, obliged her to remove them
immediately from his eyes.

She could not, however, think of quitting him in a state so truly
deplorable, and so unbecoming of his circumstances and character: - she
remained in his house, would pursue him wherever he retired, and as
she was a woman of excellent sense, as well as good-nature, invented a
thousand little stratagems to divert his thoughts from the melancholly
theme which had too much engrossed them, but had not the satisfaction
to perceive that any thing she could say or do, occasioned the least
movement of that fixed sullenness, which, by a long habit, appeared
like a second nature in him.

This poor lady found also other matters of surprize and discontent, on
her staying in town, besides the sad situation of her brother's
health: - as she had never been informed of the disunion between him
and his wife, much less of the occasion of it, the behaviour of that
lady filled her with the utmost astonishment: - to perceive she took no
pains to alleviate his sorrows, never came into the room where he was,
or even sent her woman with those common compliments, which he
received from all who had the least acquaintance with him, would have
afforded sufficient occasion for the speculation of a sister; yet was
this manifest disregard, this failure in all the duties of a wife, a
friend, a neighbour, little worthy of consideration, when put in
comparison with her conduct in other points.

After the adventure of her detection, finding the minister was
resolved to support her, and that her husband durst not come to any
open breach with her, she immediately began to throw aside all regard
for decorum; - she seemed utterly to despise all sense of shame, and
even to glory in a life of continual dissolution; - the company she
kept of both sexes, were, for the most part, persons of abandoned
characters: whether she indulged herself in a plurality of amours, is
uncertain, though it was said she did so; but there was one man to
whom she was most particularly attached; - this was a person who had
formerly enjoyed a post under the government, but was turned out on
the score of misbehaviour, and had now no other support than what he
received from her: - with him she frequently passed whole nights, and
took so little care in concealing the place of their meeting, that the
sister of Natura easily found it out.

On relating the discovery she had made to some of their relations,
they advised her to tell her brother, imagining this glaring insult on
his honour would effectually rouse him out of the stupidity he
languished under: - she was of the same opinion, and took the first
opportunity of letting Natura into the whole infamous affair, not
without some apprehensions, that an excess of rage on hearing it,
might hurry him into a contrary extreme; but her terrors on this head
were presently dissipated, when having repeated many circumstances to
corroborate the truth of what she said, there appeared not the least
emotion in his countenance; and on her urging him to take some
measures to do himself justice, or at least to put a stop to this
licentiousness of a person whose dishonour was his own; all she could
get from him was, that he had neither regard enough for her to take
any pains for the reclaiming her, nor for the censure of the world on
himself, and desired she would not trouble him any farther on this
point.

This strange insensibility afforded cause to fear his faculties were
all too deeply absorbed in melancholy, for him ever to become a man of
the world again, and as she truly loved him, gave both her, and all
his other friends, an infinite concern.




CHAP. III.

The struggles which different passions occasion in the human breast,
are here exemplified; and that there is no one among them so strong,
but may be extirpated by another, excepting _revenge_, which knows
no period, but by gratification.


Though it must be acknowledged, that the passions, generally speaking,
operate according to the constitution, and seem, in a manner, wholly
directed by it, yet there is one, above all, which actuates alike in
all, and when once entertained, is scarce ever extinguished: - it may
indeed lie dormant, for a time, but then it easily revives on the
least occasion, and blazes out with greater violence than ever. I
believe every one will understand I mean _revenge_, since there is no
other emotion of the soul, but has its antedote: _grief_ and _joy_
alternately succeed each other; - _hope_ has its period in
possession; - _fear_ ceases, either by the cause being removed, or by a
fatal certainty of some dreaded evil; - _ambition_ dies within us, on a
just sense of the folly of pursuing it; - _hate_ is often vanquished by
good offices; - even greedy _avarice_ may be glutted; and _love_ is,
for the most part, fluctuating, and may be terminated by a thousand
accidents. - _Revenge_ alone is implacable and eternal, not to be
banished by any other passion whatsoever; - the effects of it are the
same, invariable in every constitution; and whether the man be
phlegmatic or sanguine, there will be no difference in his way of
thinking in this point. The principles of religion and morality indeed
may, and frequently do, hinder a man from putting into action what
this cruel passion suggests, but neither of them can restrain him who
has revenge in his heart, from wishing it were lawful for him to
indulge it.

This being so fixed a passion, it hardly ever gains entrance on the
mind, till a sufficient number of years have given a solidity to the
thoughts, and made us know for what we wish, and why we wish. - Every
one, however, does not experience its force, and happy may those be
accounted who are free from it, since it is not only the most
unjustifiable and dangerous, but also the most restless and
self-tormenting emotion of the soul.

There are, notwithstanding, some kind of provocations, which it is
scarce possible, nor indeed consistent with the justice we owe to
ourselves, to bury wholly in oblivion; and likewise there are some
kinds of revenge, which may deserve to be excused; of these, that
which Natura put in practice, as shall presently be shewn, may be
reckoned of the number.

I doubt not, but my readers, as well as all those who were acquainted
with him at that time, will believe, that in the situation I have
described, he was for ever lost to the sense of any other passion,
than that which so powerfully engrossed him, and from which all the
endeavours hitherto made use of, had been ineffectual to rouse him.
But it often happens, that what we least expect, comes most suddenly
upon us, and proves that all human efforts are in vain, without the
interposition of some supernatural power.

I have already said, that the bad conduct of his wife had been
repeated over and over to him without his discovering the least
emotion at it; yet would not his sister cease urging him to resent it
as became a man sensible of his dishonour, that is, to rid himself, by
such ways as the law puts it in the power of a husband so injured, to
get rid of her; and imagining that an ocular demonstration of her
crime, would make a greater impression on him, than any report could
do, she set about contriving some way to bring him where his own eyes
might convince him of the truth of what he had been so often
told: - but how to prevail on him to go out of his house, which he had
not now seen the outside of for some months, was a difficulty not
easily surmounted: - the obstinacy of grief disappointed all the little
plots they laid for their purpose, and they were beginning to give
over all thoughts of any future attempts, when chance accomplished the
so-much desired work.

He had ordered a monument to be erected over the grave of his beloved
son; which, being finished, and he told that it was so, 'I will see,'
said he, 'if it be done according to my directions.' Two or three of
his kindred were present when he took this resolution, and one of them
immediately recollecting, how they might make it of advantage to their
design, said many things in praise of the structure; but added, that
the scaffolding and rubbish the workmen had left, not being yet
removed, he would have him defer seeing it, till it was cleaned. To
this he having readily agreed, spies were placed, to observe the time
and place, where the lady and her favourite lover had the next
rendezvous. As neither of them had any great caution in their amour, a
full account was soon brought to the sister of Natura, who, with
several of their relations, came into his chamber, and told him that
the tomb was now fit to be seen in all its beauty.

On this he presently suffered himself to be dressed, and went with
them; but they managed so well that, under pretence of calling on
another friend, who, they said, had desired to be of their company in
this melancholly entertainment, they led him to the house where his
wife and enamorato were yet in bed. The sister of Natura having, by a
large bribe, secured the woman of the house to her interest, they were
all conducted to the very scene of guilt, and this much injured
husband had a second testimony of the perfidy of his wife; but alas!
the first had made too deep an impression on him to leave room for any
great surprize; he only cooly turned away, and said to those who had
brought him there, that they needed not have taken all this pains to
make him a witness of what he was convinced of long before.

His wife, however, was frighted, if not ashamed, and hid herself under
the bedcloaths, while her gallant jumped, naked as he was, out of the
window; but though Natura discovered very little emotion at all this,
yet whether it was owing to the arguments of his friends, or that the
air, after having been so long shut up from it, had an effect on him,
they could not determine, but had the satisfaction to find that he
consented an action in his name should be awarded against the lover,
and proper means used for obtaining a bill of divorce from his wife.

The real motive of this change in him none of them, however, could
penetrate: - grief had for a while obliterated the thoughts of the
injustice and ingratitude of his brother, but what he had now beheld
reminding him of that shocking scene related in the first chapter of
this book, all his long stifled wishes for revenge returned with
greater force than ever; and thinking he could no way so fully gratify
them, as by disappointing him of the estate he must enjoy at his
decease, in case he died without issue, a divorce therefore would give
him liberty to marry again; and as he was no more than three-and-forty
years of age, had no reason to despair of having an heir, to cut
entirely off the claim of so wicked a brother. Having once began to
stir in the affair, it was soon brought to a conclusion. - The fact was
incontestable, and proved by witnesses, whose credit left no room for
cavil; a bill of divorce was granted on very easy terms, and the
gallant fined in so large a penalty, that he was obliged to quit the
kingdom, to avoid imprisonment for life.

Thus did revenge produce an effect, which neither the precepts of
religion, philosophy, or morality, joined with the most tender and
pressing remonstrances of his nearest and dearest friends, could ever
have brought about; - and this instance, in my judgment, proves to a
demonstration, that it is so ordered by the all-wise Creator, that all
the pernicious passions are at continual enmity, and, like
counter-poisons, destroy the force of each other: and tho' it is
certain, a man may be possessed of many passions at once, and those
also may be of different natures, and tend to different aims, yet will
there be a struggle, as it were, between them in the breast, and which
ever happens to get predominance, will drive out the others in time,
and reign alone sole master of the mind.




CHAP. IV.

Contains a further definition of _revenge_, its force, effects, and
the chasm it leaves on the mind when once it ceases. The tranquility
of being entirely devoid of all passions; and the impossibility for
the soul to remain in that state of inactivity is also shewn; with
some remarks on human nature in general, when left to itself.


I have already shewn, in the example of Natura, how not only
resentment for injuries, but even the extremest and most justifiable
_rage_, may be subjected to _ambition_, and afterwards how that
_ambition_ may be quelled and totally extinguished by _grief_; and
also that _grief_ itself, how violent soever it appears, may subside
at the emotions of _revenge_. - This last and worst passion alone finds
nothing capable of overcoming it, while the object remains in being.
It is true, that we frequently in the hurry of resentment, threaten,
and sometimes act every thing in our power, against the person who has
offended us, yet on his submission and appearing sorry for what he has
done, we not only forgive, but also forget all has past, and no longer
bear him the least ill will; but then, this passion, by which we have
been actuated, is not properly _revenge_, but _anger_, of which I have
already sufficiently spoke, and, I flatter myself, proved how wide the
difference is between these two emotions.

Natura had no sooner taken it into his head to revenge himself in the
manner above related, on his transgressing brother, than he resumed
great part of his former chearfulness, conversed again in the world as
he had been accustomed; nor, though he perceived his interest with the
minister fall off ever since he had been divorced from his neice, and
easily foresaw, that he would, from his friend, become in time his
greatest enemy, yet it gave him little or no concern, so wholly were
his thoughts and desires taken up with accomplishing what he had
resolved.

He was, however, for some time deliberating within himself to whom he
should direct his addresses on this score; the general acquaintance he
had in the world, brought many ladies into his mind, who seemed
suitable matches for him; but then, as they were of equal birth and
fortunes with himself, he reflected, that a long formal courtship
would be expected, and he was now grown too indolent to take that
trouble, as he was not excited by inclination to any of them, and had
determined to enter a third time into the bonds of matrimony, meerly
through the hope of depriving his brother of the estate.

Besides, the accidents which had lately happened to him, had very much
altered his way of thinking, and though he had shaken off great part
of the chagrin they had occasioned, yet there still remained a certain
languor and inactivity of mind, which destroyed all the relish he
formerly had of the noisy pleasures of life: - he began now to despise
that farce of grandeur he once testified so high a value for, and to
look on things as they really deserved; - he found his interest with
those at the helm of public affairs, was very much sunk, and he was so
far from taking any steps to retrieve it, that he seldom went even to
pay that court to them, which his station demanded from him; - he grew
so weary of the post which he had, with the utmost eagerness, sought
after, and thought himself happy in enjoying, that he never rested
till he had disposed of it, which he did for a much less consideration
than it was really worth, meerly because he would be in a state of
perfect independency, and at full liberty to speak and act, according
to the dictates of his conscience, or his inclination.

He was no sooner eased of his attendance at court by this means, than
he retired to his country seat, in which he now thought he found more
satisfaction, than the town, with all its hurrying pleasures could
afford; there he intended to pass the greatest part of the remainder
of his days, with some woman of prudence and good nature, which were
the two chief requisites he now wished to find in a wife. - There were
several well-jointured widows in the county where he resided, and also
young ladies of family and fortune, but he never made the least
overtures to any of them, and behaved with that indifference to the
sex, that it was the opinion of all who conversed with him, that he
never designed to marry again, when at the same time, he thought of
nothing more than to find a partner in that state, such as promised to
prove what he desired.

To this end he watched attentively the behaviour of all those he came
in company with, and as he was master of a good deal of penetration,
and also no small experience in the sex, and besides was not suspected
to have any views that way, it is certain he had a good chance not to
be deceived.

It was not among the fine ladies, the celebrated beauties, nor the
great fortunes, he sought himself a wife; but among those of a
middling rank; he only wished to have one who might bring him
children, and be addicted to no vice, or caprice, that should either
scandalize him abroad, or render him uneasy at home, and in all his


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Online LibraryEliza Fowler HaywoodLife's Progress Through The Passions Or, The Adventures of Natura → online text (page 13 of 16)