Eliza Fowler Haywood.

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

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_senses_; and the _soul_, though never so elevated, find itself
incapable of enjoying a perfect satisfaction, without the
participation of the _body_. - As inclination then is not always guided
by a right judgment, nor circumstances always concur to render the
indulging an amorous propensity either convenient, or lawful, how
careful ought every one be, not to be deceived by a romantic
imagination, so far as to engage in an affection which, sooner or
later, will bring them to the same point that Natura and Charlotte
experienced.




CHAP. VI.

How the most powerful emotions of the _mind_ subside and grow weaker
in proportion, as the strength of the _body_ decays, is here
exemplified; and that such passions as remain after a certain age,
are not properly the incentives of nature, but of example, long
habitude or ill humour.


The bride and bridegroom were received by all the friends, tenants,
and dependants of Natura, with the greatest demonstrations of joy; and
the behaviour of the amiable Charlotte was such as made every one
cease to wonder that he had ventured again on marriage, after the
disquiets he had experienced in that state.

The kindred on neither side had nothing to condemn in the choice which
each had made of the other; and though perhaps a motive of
self-interest might make those nearest in blood, and consequently to
the estates they should leave at their decease, wish such an union had
not happened, yet none took the liberty to complain, or betray, by any
part of their behaviour, the least dissatisfaction at it. - The sister
and brother-in-law of Natura, it must be allowed, had the most cause,
as they had a large family of children, who had a claim equally to the
effects of both, in case they had died without issue; yet did not even
they express any discontent, though Charlotte, within the first year
of her marriage, brought two sons into the world, and a third in the
next ensuing one, all which seemed likely to live, and enjoy their
parents patrimony.

What now was wanting to compleat the happiness of this worthy pair,
equally loving and beloved by each other, respected by all who knew
them, in need of no favours from any one, and blessed with the power
of conferring them on as many as they found wanted, or merited their
assistance. - Charlotte lost no part of her beauty, nor vivacity, by
becoming a mother, nor did Natura find any decrease in the strength,
or vigour, either of his mind or body, till he was past fifty-six
years of age. - The same happy constitution had doubtless continued a
much longer time in him, as nature had not been worn out by any
excesses, or intemperance, if by unthinkingly drinking some cold
water, when he was extremely hot, he had not thrown himself into a
surfeit, which surfeit afterward terminated in an ague and fever,
which remained on him a long time, and so greatly impaired all his
faculties, as well as person, that he was scarce to be known, either
by behaviour, or looks, for the man who, before that accident, had
been infinitely regarded and esteemed for the politeness of the _one_,
and the agreeableness of the _other_.

His limbs grew feeble, his body thin, and his face pale and wan, his
temper sour and sullen, seldom caring to speak, and when he did it was
with peevishness and ill-nature; - every thing was to him an object of
disquiet; nothing of delight; and he seemed, in all respects, like one
who was weary of the world, and knew he was to leave it in a short
time.

It is so natural to feel repugnance at the thoughts of being what they
call _no more_; that is, no more as to the knowledge and affections of
this world; that even those persons who labour under the severest
afflictions, wish rather to continue in them, than be eased by
death: - they are pleased at any flattering hopes given of a
prolongation of their present misery, and are struck with horror at
the least mention of their life and pains being drawing to a
period. - More irksome, doubtless, it must still be to those, who
having every thing they could wish for here, find they must soon be
torn from all the blessings they enjoy. - This is indeed a weakness;
but it is a weakness of nature, and which neither religion nor
philosophy are sufficient to arm us against; and the very endeavours
we make to banish, or at least to conceal our disquiets on this score,
occasion a certain peevishness in the sweetest temper, and make us
behave with a kind of churlishness, even to those most dear to us.

Few, indeed, care to confess this truth, tho' there are scarce any,
who do not shew it in their behaviour, even at the very time they are
forcing themselves to an affectation of indifference for life, and a
resignation to the will of Heaven.

The great skill of his physicians, however, and the yet greater care
his tender consort took to see their prescriptions obeyed with the
utmost exactitude, at length recovered Natura from the brink of the
grave. - He was out of danger from the disease which had so long
afflicted him; but though it had entirely left him, the attack had
been too severe for a person at the age to which he was now arrived,
to regain altogether the former man. - He had, in his sickness,
contracted habits, which he was unable to throw off in health, and he
could no more behave, than look, as he had done before.

The mind would certainly be unalterable, and retain the same vigour it
ever had in youth, even to extreme old age, could the constitution
preserve itself entire. - It is that perishable part of us, which every
little accident impairs, and wears away, preparing, as it were, by
degrees, for a total dissolution, which hinders the nobler moiety of
the human species from actuating in a proper manner: - those organs,
which are the vehicles, through which its meanings shoot forth into
action, being either shrivelled, abraded by long use, or clogged up
with humours, shew the soul but in an imperfect manner, often disguise
it wholly, and it is for want of a due consideration only, that we are
so apt to condemn the _mind_, for what, in reality, is nothing but the
incumbrances laid on it by the infirmities of the _body_.

It is true, that as we grow older, the passions naturally subside; yet
that they do so, is not owing to themselves, as I think may be easily
proved by this argument.

Every one will acknowledge, because he knows it by experience, that
while he is possessed of _passions_, his _reason_ alone has the power
of keeping them within the bounds of moderation; if then we have less
of the _passions_ in old age, or rather, if they seem wholly
extinguished in us, we ought to have a greater share of _reason_ than
before; whereas, on the contrary, _reason_ itself becomes languid in
the length of years, as well as the _passions_, it is supposed to have
subdued: it is therefore meerly the imbecility of the organical
faculties, and from no other cause, that we see the aged and infirm
dead, in appearance, to those sensations, by which their youth was so
strongly influenced.

_Avarice_ is, indeed, frequently distinguishable in old men; but this
I do not look upon as a _passion_ but a _propensity_, arising from
ill-nature and self-love. - Gain, and the sordid pleasure of counting
over money, and reckoning up rents and revenues, is the only lust of
age; and since we cannot be so handsome, so vigorous, cannot indulge
our appetites, like those who are younger, we take all manner of ways
to be richer, and pride ourselves in the length of our bags, and the
number of our tenants.

I know it may be objected, that this vice is not confined to age, that
youth is frequently very avaritious, and grasps at money with a very
unbecoming eagerness: - this, I grant, is true; but, if we look into
the conduct of such men in other respects, I believe we shall
generally find their avarice proceeds from their prodigality; - they
are lavish in the purchase of pleasures, and must therefore be
parsimonious in acts of generosity and justice: - they are guilty of
meanness in some things, only for the sake of making a great figure in
others; and are not ashamed to be accounted niggards, where they ought
to be liberal, in order to acquire the reputation of open-handedness,
where it would better become them to be sparing.

Natura, however, had never discovered any tendency to this vice,
either in youth or age; yet did that peevishness, which the
infirmities of his body had occasioned, make him behave sometimes, as
if he were tainted with it.

Charlotte observed this alteration in her husband's temper with an
infinite concern; yet bore it with an equal patience; - making it her
whole study to divert and sooth his ill humour: - he was not so lost to
love and gratitude, and even reason too, as not to acknowledge the
tender proofs he continually received of her unshaken affections, and
would sometimes confess the errors he was guilty of, in point of
behaviour towards her, and intreat her pardon; but then the least
trifle would render him again forgetful of all he had said, and make
him relapse into his former frowardness.

It is certain, notwithstanding, that his love for her was the same as
ever, though he could not shew it in the same manner; and to what can
this be imputed, but to the effect which the ailments of his external
frame had on his internal faculties.

Though, as well as those about him, he found a decay within himself,
which made him think he had not long to live; yet could he not be
prevailed upon, for a great while, to settle his affairs after his
decease, by making any will; and whenever it was mentioned to him,
discovered a dissatisfaction, which at last made every one desist from
urging any thing on that score.

It was in vain that they had remonstrated to him, that the estate
being to descend entire to his eldest son, the two youngest would be
left without any provision, and consequently must be dependants on
their brother, by his dying intestate: - in vain they pleaded, that
taking so necessary a precaution for preserving the future peace of
his family, would no way hasten his death, but, on the contrary,
render the fatal hour, whenever it should arrive, less dreadful, he
had only either answered not at all, or replied in such a fashion, as
could give them no room to hope for his compliance.

In this unhappy disposition did he continue between two and three
years; but as his latter days came on, he grew much more calm and
resigned, _reason_ began to recover its former dominion over him; and,
when every one had left off all importunities on the account of his
making a _will_, he, of himself, mentioned the necessity of it, and
ordered a lawyer to be sent for to that end.

Having settled all his affairs, relating to this world, in the most
prudent manner, he began to prepare for another, with a zeal which
shewed, that whatever notions people may have in health, concerning
futurity, they become more convinced, in proportion as they grow
nearer their dissolution.

He finished his course in the sixty-third, or what is called the grand
climacteric year of life; - had the blessing to retain the use of all
his senses to the last; and as death had long before assailed, though
not totally vanquished him, he was too much decayed by continual
wastings, to feel any of those pangs, which persons who die in their
full vigour must unavoidably go through, when the vital springs burst
at once.

He took leave of his dear wife and children with great serenity and
composure of mind; and afterwards turned himself from them, and passed
into eternity, as if falling into a gentle slumber.

Thus have I attempted to trace nature in all her mazy windings, and
shew life's progress thro' the passions, from the cradle to the
grave. - The various adventures which happened to Natura, I thought,
afforded a more ample field, than those of any one man I ever heard,
or read of; and flatter myself, that the reader will find many
instances, that may contribute to rectify his own conduct, by pointing
out those things which ought to be avoided, or at least most carefully
guarded against, and those which are worthy to be improved and
imitated.



FINIS.









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