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amuse and agitate, from the fame principle that a person of condition and education, in France or in England, repairs in an evening to a dramatic representation or musical entertainment, or to easy and social meetings, in which are freely and calmly discussed domestic, political, or literary subjects.
Though it was long, and some ages elapsed, before science and letters had made any progress in Rome, yet we do not read that that wife and severe people ever found it necessary to submit to the pernicious expedients above alluded to, of barbarous or enslaved society, in order to divert the languor and listlessness of life, and fill up the vacancies of serious occupation and pursuit. They seem to have refted their pleasures and enjoyments, on the proper duties and offices of a man. As was observed in a preceding essay, during the period of their virtue, agriculture, liberty, conquest engrossed their whole attention. When those happy times had rolled away, though dominion and luxury poured in all their concomitant and attendant vices, excesses, and crimes, and though the spectacles of the Arena, and the Circus, the expressive pantomime, and the expiring gladiator, were the entertainment and delight of the populace, yet literary subjects and compositions were introduced at the tables of the polite and liberal; and we are told by the elegant historian of Atticus, that none were admitted to his suppers, who could not be entertained with hearing read aloud a poem, a moral treatise, or other composition; and even so late as the times of the younger Pliny, he informs us, that during supper with his wife, and a few friends, their constant entertainment was some book, or literary tract. These manners, it is true, were very different from our own, but were they not as eligible? And when all the information and fancy and pleasantry of a select party are exhausted, is not a drama or historical narrative as good a substitute, as the card-table with her filence, emptinefs and dulness, to call no worse names ? Indeed, we never stray so wide of pleasure, as when we pursue it in enjoyments in which neither the understanding, the imagination, or the heart are concerned.
• With regard to the art of conversation, it seems to consist in never exhausting or dwelling too long on any subject; in shewing its best points of view, rather than every thing that can be said upon it; its most striking features rather than its minute pecuJiarities. The rest of the company fhould be permitted their share of the conversation, and even enticed into it. People of good sense and good manners meet together, not big with the lilly desire of what is called thining, and being witty and clever, or of making tiresome or insulting differtations and harangues, but in order to converse and to talk; of which kind of intercourse fimplicity, modesty, inquiry, information, concise narrative, pertinent reflection, are the peculiar excellencies. Far be Rev. July, 1779.
from such unaffected, engaging meetings, all noisy, vociferous mirth and laughter, the empty boast of unimitated birth and merit, of fortune unaignified by expence, the stale and repeated recital of our proper selves, our refined address, our merited success, our unmerited disappointment, the story of our feelings, diseases, recoveries. Nothing but the partiality of friendship can excuse such idle babble; it is the topic of only ignorant and silly characters.
• Notwithstanding the opinion of certain severe and extra, vagant moralists, perhaps even ridicule, satire, and censure, may be, sometimes permitted. Even the Spartan legislator approved this species of restraint on unworthy and indecent actions and conduct; for we are told, the great subject and business of the conversation of his citizens, was to praise some good and virtuous action that had been performed, or to censure some fault that had been committed ; and this was done with wit and good humour, and in such a way as to reprove and correct without offending. Such was the delicacy observed to those present. The absent worthless were treated with less reserve. Indeed, the reprehension of the impertinent, the vicious, the criminal, is an implied approbation and eulogy of those of an opposite character and manners, of the modest, the temperate, the virtuous : besides, it is a great check on any propensity to vice or unworthy behaviour, to hear such as are addicted to them represented in the true and odious colours they so juftly deserve. Our natural, didlike and horror of them are increased by sympathy with their censurers, and we dread being placed in the same disadvantageous and mortifying point of view.
• One of the most pleasing topics of conversation is anecdotes, or remarkable passages of the lives and actions of great and illuftrious persons; of those who have served their country, and the cause and interests of human nature, by their private or public virtues, in letters or in arms. As was alluded to above, such was the school, in which at a frugal meal, and over the moderate use of wine, the citizens of Sparta, both of early and advanced age, learned and confirmed themselves in good manners, morality, and public affection. The sayings, the conduct, the exploits, and achievements of the characters and actors brought into discourse, had a more efficacious and exciting effect on the hearers, than unadorned precept, or the dictatorial style of discipline and instruction.
(Our great progress and improvements in arts and letters have enlarged the sphere of modern conversation to a boundless extent. We pass in review not only the virtues and vices of our own times, but of all times, and of all ages, paft and present. Besides, the more serious parts of science, the sublime, the pathetic, the comic, the descriptive of poetry, the expression of
ners, the exploitto discourse, han u
music, the magnificence of architecture, the scenery of land: scape ; in a word, ten thousand interesting or entertaining topics solicit our attention, ferve to enliven existence, or to suspend the influence of the unavoidable troubles and anxieties of human life. When we have such rich, such inexhaustible sources of difcourse, how can we so perversely, so ungratefully precipitaté ourselves on the shameful and ruinous agonies of play, the impairer of our health and good humour, the canker of our fortunes, the seducer, by our own example, by our own encouragement, of our wives, our sons, and even of our unmarried daughters ? Certain it is, that this scandalous and destructive passion has been carried to fuch a degree of excess and exorbitancy, and produced such terrible and alarming effects, that unless it receive some check and opprobrium from parents, or husbands, or the legislature, or may I say Heaven, our own destruction, and that of our country, is juftly to be apprehended. Did I say the legislature? Alas! there is its throne, there is its seat of triumph and glory, there it satiates daily on despair and suicide. Nothing but some national calamity, or extraordinary interpofition, can preserve us from perdition, can restore us to the use of rea. fon, to a taste and relish for natural and rational amusements and fatisfactions.
'Though a teller of stories be a ciresome and infipid character, yet a story related with spirit or humour, serves often very agreeably to diversify and enliven conversation. It should not be long, it should not be minute, the narrator should haften to the conclufion. Nothing, indeed, so overwhelming, as a tedious, particular, uninteresting tale.
A person of this turn and talent should also have a very good memory; not so much left he fall through his tale (though that would be a circumítance ridiculous enough), as left he should not recollect having entertained with it the very fame audience before. It may be doubted whether the novelty and fingularity of the story or narrative, or the manner of expressing and unfolding it, be its chief merit. Even royal majefty itself could not detain an audience (and that of courtiers too, whose profeffion, they say, is Aattery and want of feeling) to the ftale, and often-repeated relations of our second Charles, who yet is acknowledged to have furpassed all men in this pleasing talents So much more intolerable was the fear of satiety and languorg than of giving offence, than incurring, perhaps, dislike and difgrace; a word well understood, and as much dreaded in courts.'
The subjects treated of in this work are; Foreign Travel. Refinement and Luxury.-The Manners of a Grecian and English Woman of Fashion compared.—Unrestrained Power; the Corrupter of the best Natures, the Incentive to the worst Actions, -Happiness and Tranquillity of Mind.--Whether the
grace of giving intolerables pafled Wifecond feeling) whore pold
Multiplicity of Books and Increase of Knowledge, be favourable to Piety, and the Love of Public Good.-The Love of Glory and of our Country.-Marriage and Polygamy.-Conversation.Rising in Life.- Deity.-- The Education of a Prince.- The Frugality and Disinterestedness of the Ancients in Office.
F R A N C E.
ART. I. ESSAI sur l'Histoire de la Maison d'Autriche, &c. i.e. As e historical Esay concerning the House of Austria. By Count G*** Dedicated to the Queen. Paris. 12mo. Six Volumes, each containing between 5 and 600 Pages. 1778. This work contains a sketch of the principal events that have happened in the House of Austria, considered in all its different branches, and more especially an account of its contests and differences with the court of France. 'The Author begins his narration with the accession of Rodolph of Hapsburg to the imperial throne in 1273, and concludes his work with the year 1733 ; but he proposes to carry it down, if the circumstances of Europe favour his design, as far as the treaty of alliance concluded between the courts of Versailles anů Vienna in 1756. We know not whether by the words here printed in Italics Count GIRECOURT (for that is our Author's name) means the. favourable reception of his work-or-the political relations between the courts of Vienna and Versailles, which seem at present to bear a precarious aspect. Be that as it may, his work is not, by any means, unworthy of notice. Though it be not formed on such an extensive plan as to relate all the events, or to unfold all the secret springs and circumitances that raised the House of Austria to its prelent state of grandeur and stability, yet it is highly recommendable in several respects. The events are well arranged and well related ; the characters are drawn with judgment, impartiality, and candour; the notes are numerous and instructive, containing several important discullions, which, had they been placed in the text, would have too much interrupted the thread of the narration. Beside the different authors who had treated the same subject before hin, Count de GIRECOURT has received considerable information from the pa. pers of one of his ancestors (Counlellor of State to Charles III. Duke of Lorrain, and his Minister at the court of Vienna), which contain a correspondence carried on in 1577 and the following years. The state of the court of Vienna is accurately delcribed in these letters from the Envoy to his Sovereign, and have furnished our Author with facts and details, relative to this part of the Austrian history, not to be found in other
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historians.—The Reader may judge of the materials contained in this judicious work by the following enumeration : :
The two first volumes include a period of three centuries and a half, beginning with the year 1273 and ending with 1635. The principal things exhibited here are, the contests between Rodolphus of Hapsburg and Ottocares King of Bohemia--the interesting portrait and history of Maximilian I. and his war with the Swiss and Lewis XII.--the league of Cambray -- the treaty of Maximilian with Henry VIII, King of England, and the great acceffions of lustre and dominion which the House of Austria received under the reign of that Emperor-the wars between Francis I. and Charles V. and the excellent portrait of the latter-the famous revolution in the Netherlands under the reign of Philip II.-the tragical end of Don Carlos--the rupture between Philip of Spain and Henry IV. of France-the peace of Vervins--the origin of the memorable war of 30 years, and the exploits of Guftavus Adolphus in Germany.
. The principal matters contained in the four succeeding volumes are the irruption of the Spaniards into Picardy--the character of the Emperor Ferdinand II.-the famous revolution in Portugal-the peace of Westphalia—the treaty of the Pyrenees--the troubles of Hungary-the portraits of Philip IV. and Charles II. Kings of Spain, of the Queen-mother, Don John of Auftria, and the Queen of France, mother to Lewis XIV.--the raising the siege of Vienna, when invested by the Turks-the violation of the truce of 20 years between the Empire and France-the treaties of Ryswick and Carlowitzthe accellion of the Duke of Anjou to the crown of Spain-the rebellion of Prince Ragotsky against the Emperor Leopold,the portraits of this Emperor and his successor Joseph I.--the treaty of Utrecht--the projects of Alberoni, the abdication of Philip V. Bring
The attentive reader of this history will meet with instructive leflons from the different destinies of the elder and younger branches of the House of Austria : he will see the former poflefling Spain, the Indies, the Low-Countries, and a great part of Italy, and yet falling gradually into the most incredible lethargy, weakness, and contempt, and concluding with the death of that poor insignificant monarch, Charles Il. while the latter, established in Germany, rose, after various changes of fortune, to a high degree of power and splendour. It is remarkable, that these two branches never united their interests, but in such circumstances as rendered their union and mutual succours useless to both. It is also remarkable that, notwithstanding the vast acceflions made to the power and dominion of the House of Austria, by che acquisition of Bohemia, Austria, - Silefia, Moravia, and