For the Northern Whig.
Si possem, sanior essem;
Sed trahit invitam nova vis: aliudque cupido
Mens aliud suadet. Video meliora, proboque;
Deteriora sequor.Ovid, lib. 6.
Nothing is, which is not of use.-- There may exist many things, the practical good
resulting from the use fo which will fall infinitely short of a just compensation for the
complicated mischiefs, which the mere existence of these same things must necessarily
produce. We are bound to receive and to profit by every sallutary good, which is
offerd us, come it whence it may. We shall therefore transcribe a letter from an old
and must esteemed friend, the reported son of Somnus and Nox.
Time first invigorates then enervates, the human constitution; and lastly leads man tottering
to the grave: Not so its effects upon genuine friendship; which still continues to grow and
strengthen in spite of fortune's frowns, nor knows not change till the last expiring
breath. -- Old and feeble, on the verge of eternity, the mind cons more than the trembling
hand can record. -- Something so with me. However I cannot forgo the pleasure of
communicating to you some interresting particulars of a late, and hazardous tour of mine. --
Early in the morning of the day in which the mysteries of Diana, were wont to be
celebrated, I departed for the Oracle of Jupiter Ammon. My blundering guide,
mistook the name for the planet Jupiter for which he shaped his course, but lost his way
and about sunset landed me in a valley of the Moon, at the foot of the mountain Leibnitz.
Through this valley flowed a majestic river, on the hither bank of which stood a pleasant
little City. Judge of my surprise, when on entering it, I heard sung, and by a charming girl
too, these lines--
There is a custom in our town,
Odd indeed it is, sir,
The Buck and Beau and City Clown,
Its supporters are, sir:
Skulking, peeping, trembling, flying,
Like the tim'rous Hare, sir;
Sitting, gazing, whisp'ring, gig'ling,
Never thing so rare, sir.
This unintelligible jargon filled my mind with anxiety, excited suspicion, doubt,
fear, which considerably quickened my step. Arriving at an Inn, my doubts and fears were
soon dissipated.-- An intelligent old Lunarian very ingeniously related to me a few
particulars of the "custom," to which the above "lines" had reference.
It was thus:
"You observe many young people in town. As it is in most other places on our
planet, so it is here. The whole herd of gallants, from the fopling to the
clown, profess to be extremely fond of the ladies. While they can
seize hold of the arm of a fair one in the street, all seems well enough; the
tongue does its office, -- sociability ensures. Not being thus successful,
the face of things is wholly changed. The ladies must be sought, either at their
own, or at some neighbor's house. Instead of walking and and making known their
errand; they first believe it necessary to "find out who's there." The means of
effecting this, to say the least of it, is truly laughable. -- The front windows
are commonly darkened in the evening; and for salutary resons. Consequently some one,
of the most approved courage, steals along through the back way, -- peeps into the room,
-- and -- half informed -- flies back, lest he should be seized by the throat as a
trespasser; and with justice: For verily his suspicious actions would clearly mark him
a thief. If however the report be satisfactory, they then drive in without hesitation.
Seat themselves in one part of the room, which of course compells the Ladies to remain
in the other. Thus they continue -- no hilarity -- no freedom of conversation --
gaze at each other -- say but little -- though they probably think the more --
whisper a good deal -- titter and laugh as much. There are exceptions, -- but
even these are exceptionable. Although they are lively and fluent in words
yet they too often insult the understanding of the fair sex, by dwelling upon light
and trivial subjects in their conversation with them, as though they were but
half witted, or at most, of capacity just enough to receive, and be well pleased with
the slanderous , or envious dialect: -- or with the fooleries, foperies or vanities of
the day: -- or with the fulsome flattery, or cunning hypocrisy, of the ignorant, weak
or designing. -- There is one other circumstance which ought not to be omitted. If a
stranger happen in, generally he may sit till his eyes grow dim with age, or his tongue
loose its use, before he will be addressed or made acquainted
with any one. Such are the
outlines of this singular "custom" among us lunarians. You will draw what inferences
I did; and they are these: that such conduct is inconsiderate, improper; and such as the
censorious might handle to much advantage. Skulking round the house -- peeping into the windows
-- "visum teneatis? quia ridiculum est." -- So after they get into the room the
striking peculiarity of most of their actions seem evidently to originate either from
ignorance or bashfulness. -- While in this posture of alternately ogling and staring,
gigling and sorrowing, they appear to be very modest waiting for a polite invitation from
the Ladies to change seats, or enter into conversation with them: -- And what a pity it is
they will nto so far condescend as to gratify them.
But from all I could learn, the subject matter of what little
conversation there is in these parties, of all things is the greatest outrage upon
common right and common sense. Such as -- for instance, -- Bucks, Belles, Beaux, Fops,
Clowns, Beauties, Deformities, &c. &c. with a patch on the back of each, made up of a goodly
number of defects either real or supposed, both of body and mind, whether from nature or
education or neither: -- pink gowns, hats, bonnets, caps, ribbons of various colors,
handsome or humbly, -- occasionally interspersed with a choice smattering of big,
pompous, high sounding epithets, and farfetched phrases.
I trust you will soon take occasion of showing the intrinsic worth of woman, and of pointing
out some of the many easy means of arriving to that degree of celebrity, to which the
natural excellency of their nature so justly entitles them. There is a vast difference
between right and wrong. If one begin wrong, and persist in it, five to one if his days
be not full of trouble. Adieu, kind sir.
A fine specimen indeed of the urbanity of Luna's children. Their manners however are so
like those we have witnessed in many places in this wide world, that, verily we should
have no doubt of their being copied from some of us, were there any possible means of
communication for visible mortals between the two planets.
People in general have no occasion to complain of their lack of rational faculties, though
perhaps many have of their culpable neglect of them. "Video meliora, proboque; deteriora
sequor:" we see the right course and approve it, still however we follow the wrong one.
Most men however have an easy method of doing away their sense of duty,
of reconciling their consciences to the multitude of improprities which mark their
career through life. "Si possem, sanior essem," each one exclaims; I would do better
if I could: and all is supposed well enough.
Wednesday, Oct. 3, 1809.