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or endeavoured to learn, not to make the pleasure of others too necessary to bis own.
CHARITY, or tenderness for the poor, which is now justly considered, by a great part of mankind, as inseparable from piety, and in which almost all the goodness of the present age consists, is, I think, known only to those who enjoy, either immediately or by transmission, the light of revelation.
Those anciers nations who have given us the wisest models of government, and the brightest examples of patriotism, whose institutions have been transcribed by all succeeding legislators, and whose history is studied by every candidate for political or military reputation, bave yet left behind them no mention of alms-houses or hospitals, of places where age might repose, or sickness be relieved.
The Roman emperours, indeed, gave large donatives to the citizens and soldiers, but these distributions were always reckoned rather popular than virtuous : nothing more was intended than an ostentation of liberality, nor was any recompense expected, but suffrages and acclamations.
Their beneficence was merely occasional; he that ceased to need the favour of the people, ceased likewise to court it; and therefore, no man thought it either necessary or wise to make any standing provision for the needy, to look forwards to the wants of posterity, or to secure successions of charity, for successions of distress.
Compassion is by some reasoners, on whom the name of philosophers has been too easily conferred, resolved into an affection merely selfish, an involuntary perception of pain at the involuntary sight of a being like ourselves languishing in misery. But this sensation, if ever it be felt at all from the brute instinct of uninstructed nature, will only produce effects desultory and transient: it will never settle into a principle of action, or extend relief to calamities unseen, in generations not yet in being.
The devotion of life or fortune to the succour of the poor, is a height of virtue, to which humanity has never risen by its own power. The charity of the Mahometans is a precept which their teacher evidently transplanted from the doctrines
of christianity; and the care with which some of the Oriental sects attend, as is said, to the necessities of the diseased and indigent, may be added to the other arguments, which prove Zoroaster to have borrowed his institutions from the law of Moses.
The present age, though not likely to shine hereafter among the most splendid periods of history, has yet given examples of charity, which may be very properly recommended to imitation. The equal distribution of wealth, which long commerce bas produced, does not enable any single hand to raise edifices of piety like fortified cities, to appropriate manors to religious uses, or deal out such large and lasting beneficence as was scattered over the land in ancient times by those who possessed counties or provinces. But no sooner is a new species of misery brought to view, and a design of relieving it professed, than every hand is open to contribute something, every tongue is busied in solicitation, and every art of pleasure is employed for a time in the interest of virtue.
The most apparent and pressing miseries incident to man have now their peculiar houses of reception and relief; and there are few among us raised, however little, above the danger of poverty, who may not justly claim, what is implored by the Mahometans in their most ardent benedictions, the prayers of the poor.
Among those actions which the mind can most securely review with unabated pleasure, is that of having contributed to an hospital for the sick. Of some kinds of charity the consequences are dubious; some evils which beneficence has been busy to remedy, are not certainly known to be very grievous to the sufferer, or detrimental to the community: but no man can question whether wounds and sickness are not really painful: whether it be not worthy of a good man's care to restore those to ease and usefulness, from whose la. bour infants and women expect their bread, and who, by a casual hurt, or lingering disease, lie pining in want and anguish, burthensome to others, and weary of themselves.
Yet as the hospitals of the present time subsist only by gifts bestowed at pleasure, without any solid fund of support, there is danger lest the blaze of charity, which now burns with so much heat and splendour, should die away for want of lasting fuel ; lest fashion should suddenly withdraw her smile, and inconstancy transfer the public attention to something which may appear more eligible, because it will be new.
Whatever is left in the hands of chance must be subject to vicissitude; and when any establishment is found to be useful, it ought to be the next care to make it permanent.
But man is a transitory being, and his designs must partake of the imperfections of their author. To confer duration is not always in our power. We must snatch the present moment, and employ it well, without too much solicitude for the future, and content ourselves with reflecting that our part is performed. He that waits for an opportunity to do much at once, may breathe out his life in idle wishes, and regret, in the last hour, his useless intentions, and barren zeal.
The most active promoters of the present schemes of charity cannot be cleared from some instances of misconduct, which may awaken contempt or censure, and hasten that neglect which is likely to come too soon of itself. competitions between different hospitals, and the animosity with which their patrons oppose one another, may prejudice weak minds against them all. For it will not be easily beJieved, that any man can, for good reasons, wish to exclude another from doing good. The spirit of charity can only be continued by a reconciliation of these ridiculous feuds; and therefore, instead of contentions who shall be the only benefactors to the needy, let there be no other struggle than who shall be the first.
OUR military operations are at last begun ; our troops are marching in all the pomp of war, and a camp is marked out on the Isle of Wight; the heart of every Englishman now swells with confidence, though somewhat softened by generous compassion for the consternation and distresses of our enemies.
This formidable armament and splendid march produce different effects upon different minds according to the boundless diversities of temper, occupation, and habits of thought.
Many a tender maiden considers her lover as already lost, because he cannot reach the camp but by crossing the sea ; men, of a more political understanding, are persuaded, that we shall now see, in a few days, the ambassailors of France supplicating for pity. Some are hoping for a bloody battle, because a bloody battle makes a vendible narrative ; some are composing songs of victory ; some planning arches of triumph ; and some are mixing fireworks for the celebration of a peace.
Of all extensive and complicated objects different parts are selected by different eyes : and minds are variously affected, as they vary their attention. The care of the public is now fixed upon our soldiers, who are leaving their native country to wander, none can tell how long, in the pathless deserts of the Isle of Wight. The tender sigh for their sufferings, and the gay drink to their success. I, who look, or believe myself to look, with more philosophic eyes on human affairs, must confess, that I saw the troops march with little emotion; my thoughts were fixed upon other scenes ; and the tear stole into my eyes, not for those who were going away, but for those who were left behind.
We have no reason to doubt but our troops will proceed with
proper caution; there are men among them who can take care of themselves. But how shall the ladies endure without them? By what arts can they, who have long had no joy but from the civilities of a soldier, now amuse their hours, and solace their separation ?
Of fifty thousand men, now destined to different stations, if we allow each to have been occasionally necessary only to four women, a short computation will inform us, that two hundred thousand ladies are left to languish in distress; two hundred thousand ladies, who must run to sales and auctions without an attendant; sit at a play, without a critic to direct their opinion ; buy their fans by their own judgment; dispose shells by their own invention ; walk in the Mall without a gallant ; go to the gardens without a protector; and shuffle cards with vain impatience, for want of a fourth to complete the party.
of these ladies, some, I hope, have lap-dogs, and some monkies; but they are unsatisfactory companions. Many useful offices are performed by men of scarlet, to which neither dog nor monkey has adequate abilities. A parrot, indeed, is as fine as a colonel, and if he has been much used to good company, is not wholly without conversation ; but a parrot, after all, is a poor little creature, and has neither sword nor shoulder-knot, can neither dance nor play at eards.
Since the soldiers must obey the call of their duty, and go to that side of the kingdom which faces France. I know not why the ladies, who cannot live without them, should not follow them. The prejudices and pride of man have long pre
sumed the sword and spindle made for different hands, and denied the other sex to partake the grandeur of military glory. This notion may be consistently enough received in France, where the Salic law excludes females from the throne; but we, who allow them to be sovereigns, may surely suppose them capable to be soldiers.
It were to be wished that some man, whose experience, and authority might enforce regard, would propose that our encampments for the present year should comprise an equal number of men and women, who should march and fight in mingled bodies. If proper colonels were once appointed, and the drums ordered to beat for female volunteers, our regiments would soon be filled without the reproach or cruelty of an impress.
Of these heroines, some might serve on foot, under the denomination of the Female Buffs, and some on horseback, with the title of Lady Hussars.
What objections can be made to this scheme I have endeavoured maturely to consider; and cannot find that a modern soldier has any duties, except that of obedience, which a lady cannot perform. If the hair has lost its powder, a lady has a puff; if a coat be spotted, a lady has a brush. Strength is of less importance since fire-arms have been used ; blows of the hand are now seldom exchanged ; and what is there to be done, in the charge or the retreat, beyond the powers of a sprightly maiden ?
Our masculine squadrons will not suppose themselves disgraced by their auxiliaries, till they have done something which women could not have done. The troops of Braddock never saw their enemies, and perhaps were defeated by women. If our American general had headed an army of girls, he might still have built a fort, and taken it. Had Minorca been defended by a female garrison, it might have been surrendered, as it was, without a breach; and I cannot but think, that seven thosand women might have ventured to look at Rockfort, sack a village, rob a vineyard, and return in safety,