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approval of the learned, the wise, and the good. Scholars were astonished that so difficult a Greek author should be translated with such accuracy, and elegance, and varied learning, by a woman; and Dr. Johnson is reported, in consequence, to have said, when a celebrated Greek scholar was spoken of, "Sir, he is the best Greek scholar in England, except Elizabeth Carter."

In the year 1762, she was induced to publish a collection of her poems, in one small volume, which, before the close of the century, passed through five or six editions. The character of her poetry is such as might have been expected from the elegance of her classical learning, the purity of her moral principles, and her consistent piety. While, to high imagination, or to great creative power, she can lay no claim, her language is clear and correct, her versification sweet and harmonious, and her sentiments all that the moralist or the Christian could wishpure, dignified, devotional, and sometimes rising to the sublime.

At this time her society was courted by the good and the learned everywhere; but she never favored mere literary eminence, unless it were connected with purity of character. Without this, no talents, however brilliant, attracted her regard, or could be admitted into her social circle. What a change would soon be seen and felt throughout society, if every female had the firmness and moral courage to take this position, and to say to every known immoral character what Henry V. said to Falstaff

"Not to come near our person by ten miles!"

In the latter part of her life, Mrs. Carter began to feel heavily the devastation which death usually makes among the friends of those who are destined to long life. In 1768, Dr. Secker died; in 1770, her beloved companion, Miss Talbot; in 1774, her venerable father, at the age of eighty-six; and, in 1800, her old and valued friend, Mrs. Montagu. She herself expired, with perfect calmness and resignation, on the morning of the 19th of February, 1806.'

Of Mrs. Carter's poems we have before spoken. Her chief original prose compositions were letters, and two numbers in the Rambler, No. 44 and No. 100. The former consists of an allegory, wherein religion and superstition are contrasted in a most admirable manner.


To the Rambler.

SIR-I had lately a very remarkable dream, which made so strong an impression on me, that I remember it every word; and if you are not better employed, you may read the relation of it as follows:

Methought I was in the midst of a very entertaining set of company, and extremely delighted in attending to a lively conversation, when, on a sudden, I perceived one of the most shocking figures imagination can frame, advancing towards me. She was drest in black, her skin was contracted into a thousand wrinkles, her eyes deep sunk in her head, and her complexion pale and livid as the

1 Read a memoir of her in Drake's "Essays," vol. v.

countenance of death. Her looks were filled with terror and unrelenting severity, and her hands armed with whips and scorpions. As soon as she came near, with a horrid frown, and a voice that chilled my very blood, she bid me follow her. I obeyed, and she led me through rugged paths, beset with briers and thorns, into a deep, solitary valley. Wherever she passed, the fading verdure withered beneath her steps; her pestilential breath infected the air with malignant vapors, obscured the lustre of the sun, and involved the fair face of heaven in universal gloom. Dismal howlings resounded through the forest, from every baleful tree the nightraven uttered his dreadful note, and the prospect was filled with desolation and horror. In the midst of this tremendous scene, my execrable guide addressed me in the following manner :

"Retire with me, O rash, unthinking mortal, from the vain allurements of a deceitful world, and learn that pleasure was not designed the portion of human life. Man was born to mourn and to be wretched; this is the condition of all below the stars, and whoever endeavors to oppose it, acts in contradiction to the will of Heaven. Fly then from the fatal enchantments of youth and social delight, and here consecrate the solitary hours to lamentation and woe. Misery is the duty of all sublunary beings, and every enjoyment is an offence to the Deity, who is to be worshipped only by the mortification of every sense of pleasure, and the everlasting exercise of sighs and tears."

This melancholy picture of life quite sunk my spirits, and seemed to annihilate every principle of joy within me. I threw myself beneath a blasted yew, where the winds blew cold and dismal round my head, and dreadful apprehensions chilled my heart. Here I resolved to lie till the hand of death, which I impatiently invoked, should put an end to the miseries of a life so deplorably wretched. In this sad situation I espied on one hand of me a deep muddy river, whose heavy waters rolled on in slow, sullen murmurs. Here I determined to plunge, and was just upon the brink, when I found myself suddenly drawn back. I turned about, and was surprised by the sight of the loveliest object I had ever beheld. The most engaging charms of youth and beauty appeared in all her form; effulgent glories sparkled in her eyes, and their awful splendors were softened by the gentlest looks of compassion and peace. At her approach, the frightful spectre, who had before tormented me, vanished away; and with her all the horrors she had caused. The gloomy clouds brightened into cheerful sunshine, the groves recovered their verdure, and the whole region looked gay and blooming as the garden of Eden. I was quite transported at this unexpected change; and reviving pleasure began to glad my thoughts, when, with a look of inexpressible sweetness, my beauteous deliverer thus uttered her divine instructions:

"My name is Religion. I am the offspring of Truth and Love, and the parent of Benevolence, Hope, and Joy. That monster, from whose power I have freed you, is called Superstition; she is the child of Discontent, and her followers are Fear and Sorrow. Thus different as we are, she has often the insolence to assume my name and character, and seduces unhappy mortals to think us the same, till she, at length, drives them to the borders of Despair, that dreadful abyss into which you were just going to sink.

"Look round and survey the various beauties of the globe, which Heaven has destined for the seat of the human race, and consider whether a world thus exquisitely framed could be meant for the abode of misery and pain. For what end has the lavish hand of Providence diffused such innumerable objects of delight, but that all might rejoice in the privilege of existence, and be filled with gratitude to the beneficent Author of it? Thus to enjoy the blessings he has sent, is virtue and obedience; and to reject them merely as means of pleasure, is pitiable ignorance, or absurd perverseness. Infinite goodness is the source of created existence; the proper tendency of every rational being, from the highest order of raptured seraphs to the meanest rank of man, is to rise incessantly from lower degrees of happiness to higher. They have each faculties assigned them for various orders of delights.'

"What," cried I, "is this the language of Religion? Does she lead her votaries through flowery paths, and bid them pass an unlaborious life? Where are the painful toils of virtue, the mortifications of penitents, the self-denying exercises of saints and heroes?"

"The true enjoyments of a reasonable being," answered she mildly, "do not consist in unbounded indulgence, or luxurious ease; in the tumult of passions, the languor of indolence, or the flutter of light amusements. Yielding to immoral pleasure corrupts the mind, living to animal and trifling ones debases it; both in their degree disqualify it for its genuine good, and consign it over to wretchedness. Whoever would be really happy, must make the diligent and regular exercise of his superior powers his chief attention, adoring the perfections of his Maker, expressing goodwill to his fellow-creatures, and cultivating inward rectitude. To his lower faculties he must allow such gratifications as will, by refreshing him, invigorate his nobler pursuits. In the regions inhabited by angelic natures, unmingled felicity for ever blooms, joy flows there with a perpetual and abundant stream, nor needs there any mound to check its course.




"To him who is animated with a view of obtaining approbation from the Sovereign of the universe, no difficulty is insurmountable. Secure, in this pursuit, of every needful aid, his conflict with the severest pains and trials is little more than the vigorous exercise

of a mind in health. His patient dependence on that Providence which looks through all eternity, his silent resignation, his ready accommodation of his thoughts and behavior to its inscrutable ways, is at once the most excellent sort of self-denial, and a source of the most exalted transports. Society is the true sphere of human virtue. In social, active life, difficulties will perpetually be met with; restraints of many kinds will be necessary; and studying to behave right in respect of these, is a discipline of the human heart, useful to others, and improving to itself. Suffering is no duty, but where it is necessary to avoid guilt, or to do good; nor pleasure a crime, but where it strengthens the influence of bad inclinations, or lessens the generous activity of virtue. The happiness allotted to man in his present state is indeed faint and low, compared with his immortal prospects and noble capacities; but yet whatever portion of it the distributing hand of Heaven offers to each individual, is a needful support and refreshment for the present moment, so far as it may not hinder the attaining of his final destination.

"Return then with me from continual misery to moderate enjoyment and grateful alacrity. Return from the contracted views of solitude to the proper duties of a relative and dependent being. Religion is not confined to cells and closets, nor restrained to sullen retirement. These are the gloomy doctrines of Superstition, by which she endeavors to break those chains of benevolence and social affection that link the welfare of every particular with that of the whole. Remember that the greatest honor you can pay to the Author of your being is by such a cheerful behavior as discovers a mind satisfied with his dispensations."

Here my preceptress paused, and I was going to express my acknowledgments for her discourse, when a ring of bells from the neighboring village, and a new-risen sun darting his beams through my windows, awakened me.


The solitary bird of night

Through the pale shades now wings his flight,

And quits the time-shook tower

Where, shelter'd from the blaze of day,

In philosophic gloom he lay,

Beneath his ivy bower.

With joy I hear the solemn sound
Which midnight echoes waft around,

And sighing gales repeat:
Fav'rite of Pallas!' I attend,
And faithful to thy summons bend,
At Wisdom's awful seat.

Minerva, the goddess of wisdom.

She loves the cool, the silent eve,
Where no false shows of life deceive,
Beneath the lunar ray;

Here Folly drops each vain disguise,
Nor sports her gayly-color'd dyes
As in the glare of day.

O Pallas! queen of every art
That glads the sense, or mends the heart,
Bless'd source of purer joys;

In every form of beauty bright,
That captivates the mental sight
With pleasure and surprise;
To thine unspotted shrine I bow;
Assist thy modest suppliant's vow,
That breathes no wild desires:
But taught, by thy unerring rules,
To shun the fruitless wish of fools,
To nobler views aspires.

Not fortune's gem, ambition's plume,
Not Cytherea's' fading bloom,

Be objects of my prayer:
Let avarice, vanity, and pride,
These glittering, envied toys divide,
The dull rewards of care:

To me thy better gifts impart,
Each moral beauty of the heart,
By studious thought refined:
For wealth, the smiles of glad content;
For power, its amplest, best extent,
An empire o'er my mind.

When fortune drops her gay parade,
When pleasure's transient roses fade,
And wither in the tomb,
Unchang'd is thy immortal prize,
Thy ever-verdant laurels rise
In undecaying bloom.

By thee protected, I defy

The coxcomb's sneer, the stupid lie

Of ignorance and spite;

Alike contemn the leaden fool,

And all the pointed ridicule

Of undiscerning wit.

From envy, hurry, noise, and strife,

The dull impertinence of life,

In thy retreat I rest;

Pursue thee to thy peaceful groves,
Where Plato's sacred spirit roves,

In all thy graces dress'd.

1 Venus.

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